What Should We Bind and Loose on Earth/Heaven?

What Should We Bind and Loose on Earth/Heaven? LIVE Q&A, September 7, 2023

What should we bind and loose on Earth or in Heaven?

Diana asked:

Are there other ways to use “Binding and Loosing” than solving disputes, as in Matt 18:18? I know someone who is Word of Faith, and she is daily “binding” the devil over every negative circumstance.

Your friend is misguided, or perhaps mis-taught. We don’t have some broad authority to “bind” the devil as we please.

Looking at the Matthew 18 passage:

Matthew 18:15-18

“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

“Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

[18] Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven: If the process Jesus described in Matthew 18:15-17 is done humbly and according to the word, this is quite binding in the eyes of God, even if the unrepentant ones just go to another church or go their own way.

Matthew 18:18 is limited in it its scope – dealing with a sinning brother among the community of believers. It isn’t a broad, “whatever you bind is bound” kind of authority. It’s a promise that God will “back up” church leaders and His people in general when the practice church discipline according to His word.

This is not some general authority for believers to bind Satan.

Here’s another important passage relevant to the biblical idea of binding and loosing:

Matthew 16:17-19

Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

  1. [19] And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: This idea of Peter holding the keys of the kingdom of heavenhas captured the imagination (and theology) of many Christians throughout the century. In artistic representation, Peter is almost always shown with keys. But what does it mean that Peter has these keys of the kingdom of heaven?
  2. Some people think that this means that Peter has the authority to admit people to heaven, or to keep people out of heaven. This is the basis for the popular image of Peter at the Pearly Gates of Heaven.
  3. Some people think that it also means that Peter was the first Pope, and that his supposed successors have the keys that were first given to Peter. Indeed – the Papal insignia of the Roman Catholic Church is made up of two prominent keys crossed together.

There is no doubt that Peter had a special place among all the disciples, and that he had some special privileges:

  • He is always listed first in the listings of the disciples.
  • He opened doors of the kingdom to the Jews in Acts 2:38-39.
  • He opened doors of the kingdom to the Gentiles in Acts 10:34-44.

Yet there is no Biblical argument whatsoever that Peter’s privilege or authority was passed on. To put it one way; it is possible to say that Jesus gave Peter the keys, but Jesus didn’t give him the authority to pass them on to further generations, and there is not a whisper in the Scriptures that Peter’s authority was to be passed on.

The idea that apostolic authority comes from Jesus, who gave it to Peter, who set his hands on the heads of approved and ordained men, who in turn set their hands on the heads of approved and ordained men, and so and so on through the generations until today is nonsense. It is exactly what Spurgeon said it was: the laying of empty hands on empty heads.

Where real apostolic authority comes from, we will get to in a moment.

  1. [19] And whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven: The power for binding and loosing is something that the Jewish rabbis of that day used. They bound or loosed an individual in the application of a particular point of the law. Jesus promises that Peter – and the other apostles – would be able to set the boundaries authoritatively for the New Covenant community. This was the authority given to the apostles and prophets to build a foundation (Ephesians 2:20).

Ephesians 2:20

having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,

What did Jesus mean when He said, “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you bind in heaven will be bound on earth”? Jesus meant that God gave both the permission and the authority to the first-generation apostles to make the rules for the early church.

“Binding” and “loosing” were administrative terms in daily Jewish life; whenever a Jew came up against the Law of Moses, that Jewish person was either “bound” or “loosed” regarding that law. To loose was to permit; to bind was to prohibit. To loose was to free from the law, to bind was to put under the law.

In daily Jewish life, this could be rather complicated. Here is one example from ancient rabbinical writings, cited by Mike Russ:

  • If your dog dies in your house is your house clean or unclean? Unclean.
  • If your dog dies outside your house, is your house clean or unclean? Clean.
  • If your dog dies on the doorstep, is your house clean or unclean? Ancient rabbinical writings took the issue on and decided that if the dog died with his nose pointing into the house the house was unclean; if the dog died with his nose pointing away from the house, the house was clean.

Jesus did this binding and loosing for His own disciples. Without using the same words, this is what Jesus did for the disciples when He allowed them to take the grains of wheat in the field (Matthew 12:1-8).

The Idea of “Binding Satan”

Jesus spoke clearly of His power to bind Satan:

Mark 3:27 (also Matthew 12:29, Luke 11:21)

No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house.

With this Jesus answered the charge that He was in league with the Devil. He said, “I’m not under Satan. Instead, I am proving that I am stronger than he is.” In this short parable Satan is the strong man who guards what belongs to him. Jesus’ ministry was defeating this strong man, both in the case of casting the demon out of the man who was mute and in the broader sense. Jesus promised to plunder the house of Satan. Jesus looked at every life delivered from Satan’s domination and said, “I’m plundering the kingdom of Satan one life at a time.” There is nothing in our life that must stay under Satan’s domination. The one who binds the strong man and will plunder his house is our risen Lord.

  • Believers do have some measure of authority in spiritual warfare, but it is all authority that is won in Jesus Christ and received in Him.
  • It isn’t direct authority, but indirect authority.
  • There is no indication that believers have the authority, power, or ability to “bind Satan” as they please.
  • 1 Peter 5:8 warns believers to be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. In this age, Satan walks about – and we don’t have the power to universally bind Satan.
  • We can and should pray for Satan’s influence and power to be defeated in particular situations, waging spiritual warfare in the power and authority of Jesus, not ourselves.

How the Apostles Exercised the Authority to Bind and Loose

In John 20:23 we see that the apostles were commissioned as those who would grant repentance and forgiveness as they are preached in His name: If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.This was heavy apostolic authority!

Another example of this is the Jerusalem council in Acts 15, where at the conclusion they bound and loosed the Christians who read their letter at that time regarding certain things: to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood (Acts 15:20).

Paul exercised this “binding and loosing” authority in the church (1 Corinthians 5:3-5; 2 Corinthians 2:10-11).

To sum up, we see that the concepts of binding and loosing were familiar in 1st Century Judaism, principles that applied to the leadership of the early church.

The same way the rabbis had administrative and spiritual control over the Jewish community, the apostles had administrative and spiritual control over the Christian community, the Church. The Apostles were the new rabbis.

What Conclusions Do We Draw from All This?

  1. It affirms to us the authority of the New Testament. All the books were written by an apostle, or by someone under an apostle’s authority, a close associate of the apostles. That is why when the apostles died, there were no more books of the New Testament being written
  2. If this full authority of binding and loosing was reserved for the apostles, then it is no longer active today. Instead, the work of binding and loosing happens by the Spirit of God as He speaks to each individual heart.

This was Paul’s exact point in Romans 14:14-23 and 1 Corinthians 8, where he applied it to what we eat and drink as Christians. One Christian’s conscience may bind him regarding something he eats or drinks, and the conscience of another Christian may be loosed regarding the same things.

  1. It reminds us that no Christian today – no matter how used of God they might be – has authority over the conscience of another believer. Even Paul – who at times showed his apostolic authority with no hesitation – at other times made it very clear that he did not want to take dominion over the faith of anyone.

An example of this is in 2 Corinthians 1:23-24: Moreover I call God as witness against my soul, that to spare you I came no more to Corinth. Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand.

In saying, not that we have dominion over your faith Paul was careful to point out that he was no one’s lord in the church, even though he was an apostle.

It has been said that God reserves three things to Himself: first, to make something of nothing; second, to know future events; third, to have dominion over men’s consciences.

Sadly, there are far too many that are entirely willing to take dominion over other believers in a manner that Paul would not.

We should never allow someone to take dominion over our faith; the Word of God and the Spirit of God only have this dominion.

A further example of apostolic binding and loosing can be found in 1 Corinthians 5:3-5 where Paul spoke from both prophecy and apostolic authority: For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

One more example of apostolic authority is found at 2 Corinthians 2:10-11, where Paul displayed it in connection with the same case. Paul is acting as the representative of Jesus, forgiving in His name: Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

How do we respond to someone who bases their faith upon making a “deal with God”?

When someone says they made a “deal with God” and their ‘request came true’, they now think that’s how we believe God is real! If it hadn’t, God is not real. How do we respond?

God does not authorize us to make our own deal with Him. God has made a deal with humanity through the good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ, where He offers humanity that deal of the New Covenant. The new covenant is God’s deal for humanity. He offers us the new covenant. He tells us in Old Testament passages concerning the New Covenant, “I will completely forgive you of your sins. I will cleanse you of your sins. I will give you a new heart, a heart made of flesh instead of a heart of stone. I will write My law upon your heart. I will enter into close and meaningful relationship with you, and I will fulfill you with My Spirit.” These aspects of the New Covenant are described very clearly in the Old Testament.

God tells us to repent and believe. To believe means to put your trust in who Jesus is and what He did to rescue us, especially what He did at the cross, being a substitute for our sins, and in His resurrection, triumphing over sin and death. That’s the deal God offers to humanity. Repent, believe, and receive the benefits of the New Covenant.

If somebody thinks they can stand by and make their own deal with God, they have no authority to do so. And God is under no obligation to answer that person’s desire or request. But you know what? Sometimes unbelievers pray crazy prayers which they have no business praying, and God in His mercy answers them. Understand that. Somebody might pray to God and say, ‘Lord, I’m making this deal with You; if you’ll do this, I’ll believe You.” And if God answers, that’s up to God to do. But if we’re talking about something we can confidently believe and receive from the Lord, that’s not it.

The deal God makes with humanity is in the New Covenant. We can repent and believe. We can accept it or reject it. But God is not obligated to honor any kind of deal that we say we’re going to make with Him. Nevertheless, for His own purposes and His own glory, God is very merciful to people and sometimes He may answer their request.

God has every right to say, “You want to make a deal with Me? I made a deal with you in the New Covenant. Go find your own deal. I’ll just destroy you.” I mean, God has the right to do that. It’s a very arrogant thing for humanity to come to God and say, “I’m going to make my own deal with God.” But again, God is so long suffering and so rich in mercy that sometimes He does answer them, although He’s under no obligation to do so. He sometimes does accommodate people who say, “I’m making my own deal with God.” And if He does, it’s up to them whether they’re going to use it for God’s glory or otherwise.

Why did God tell Hosea to marry a prostitute? Was this an allegory?

Why did God command Hosea to marry a prostitute and have children with her, knowing she would be unfaithful due to her “profession”? Did God use this as an allegory? It seems like sin.

Yes. God very specifically used it as an allegory in Hosea’s life. This would never be a course of action that we would recommend to somebody. We would never say, “Hey, look, it’s in the Bible, Hosea married a prostitute.” You should do not, and we would never recommend that.

But let’s also recognize that, to my knowledge, the Bible doesn’t say it is a sin to marry a prostitute. If anything, it might be a sin against wisdom to marry a prostitute, especially one who might be prone to return to her profession of prostitution as Hosea’s wife Gomer did. I wouldn’t say that it’s a sin, but it may be a sin against wisdom. But you’re exactly right. God allowed and even directed Hosea to do this in order to be a powerful prophetic illustration. The pain which Hosea obviously endured in this situation was an example and representation of God’s own pain and difficulty in dealing with Israel. Spiritually speaking, at this time, the nation of Israel was acting like a prostitute in their relationship with Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel.

​What about binding demons in Jesus’ name?

I think that the believer has directed, pointed ability to do that in specific situations. But we don’t have the ability to universally bind demons. If we did, why not just say, “Lord, I bind every demon for the rest of my life, so I can never be tempted or assaulted or deceived by a demon”? We don’t have that kind of authority.

But I believe we do have that authority in specific situations of spiritual warfare. Many parents really begin to encounter some spiritual warfare as they raise their children and grandchildren, so they pray, “Lord, whatever strategies that Satan and his agents may have against my child or grandchild, I pray that in the name of Jesus those strategies would be defeated, and Satan would be bound.”

There is a way to pray that understands how these things work in the realm of the spirit, and on the other hand there is a way that seems to think that we as believers have magical power, as if we could just throw out some pixie dust. Let me be honest with you. For some Christians, or at least claimed Christians, the name of Jesus is like magic dust that they throw out. They think that if they just say the name of Jesus, they will get whatever they want.

Friends, if you were to say, “I want Satan and all of his demonic spirits bound from the world in Jesus’ name,” that’s not going to happen, because God has not directed it to happen. In this period of time, God has ordained that the devil would walk about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he made devour. Ultimately, that is going to serve God’s purpose, no doubt about it. But now we are in a season when God has ordained that Satan would be active on the earth. Later on, Satan will be bound. The book of Revelation is very clear that not only will he be bound, but he will be unable to impact humanity in the slightest way, because he will be bound and imprisoned (see Revelation 20).

​How can the church help build a desire for God’s word?

How can the church help build the desire for the Word like Peter said a believer should have? It seems many are just getting the fire insurance and moving on.

Let me be straightforward with you. First of all, the church builds the desire for the word by preaching and teaching God’s word. It’s funny thing. When people are starved for God’s word, they will sometimes lose their appetite for it. But when they receive it, they develop a hunger for it again. We need to receive good preaching and teaching from God’s word, verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book, Old Testament as well as New Testament.

Friends, I’m a little wary of ministries that only teach the New Testament and virtually ignore the Old Testament. I don’t understand it, I don’t get it. I don’t know why some ministries virtually ignore speaking about the Old Testament, and refuse to do careful, quality, verse-by verse exposition through the Old Testament, but this is what we need. We need the whole Bible for a whole Christian life. And the more we get of that, the more we will hunger for it.

You also mention the idea that many people are just getting “fire insurance.” We need to realize that a lot of people are believers in name only. They call themselves Christians. They may attend church every once in a while, or even regularly, but they’re not real believers. They don’t live their life for Jesus Christ in any meaningful way. They don’t do what the word believe means, in the language of the New Testament means. To believe means to trust in, rely on and cling to.

We might ask a person, “Do you believe Jesus lived and taught and died and rose again?” They might respond, “Yeah, I believe all that.” But do they trust in it? Do they rely on it? Do they cling to it in any meaningful way? The teaching the Bible drives away some nominal believers; not all, but some. And if that’s the way it is, that’s the way it is.

Do we bind Satan in Jesus’ name or ask God/Jesus to bind Satan?

Good question. I think the heart is much more meaningful in this than the formulation of words. Let’s always remember that we are not casting spells, where the formulation of the words is all-essential for it to work. It’s much more of a matter of the heart. In other words, what are you trusting? I could say all the right words, but if I’m trusting in myself and in my own power, it’s no good before God. On the other hand, I could say words that aren’t phrased in the best way, but if I’m truly putting my trust in Jesus Christ and His authority and His work, God can honor that, and He often does.

So, do we bind Satan in Jesus’ name or ask God or Jesus to bind him? I would say either one can be fine, as long as it is understood that we don’t do it in our own authority. We do it only by delegated authority.

Don’t think for a moment that the believer has no authority. Believers have great authority, but all of that authority is in Jesus Christ. It’s not in the believers themselves. It’s delegated authority from Jesus Christ. And if saying in Jesus’ name helps that person to remember that, then that’s good. Don’t ever forget that when Michael the archangel rebuked Satan in the book of Jude, he said, “The Lord rebuke you.” He did it in the name of the Lord, in Yahweh’s name, and Jesus is Yahweh.

Again, in this situation, the heart is more important than the specific words.

Can spiritual uncleanliness be a generational curse?

Your question is more complicated than it immediately seems. But let me explain a few things.

First, there is, in a sense, a generational curse on all of humanity. Every one of us inherited a sin nature from our first parents, Adam and Eve. That’s what Romans 5-6 means when it says that we are born in Adam, and that we are represented by Adam. In a sense, every person ever born – with the exception of the virgin-born Jesus Christ – has inherited spiritual uncleanliness. But we need to be very careful with the idea of a generational curse, that someone is bound by a particular curse.

Now, I don’t doubt at all that the sins of the fathers can be visited upon their descendants. We see this pattern in Scripture. It can happen that, because of the environment, the example, or the culture around them, children repeat the sins of their fathers. Oftentimes, granddad was a drunkard, daddy was a drunkard, and the sons are drunkards. It can happen that way. Although it may certainly function as a generational curse in that matter, I don’t believe that people are born cursed in this way, beyond the general curse that we receive from Adam himself.

Biblically, spiritual uncleanness is a ceremonial idea in the Old Testament, under the Old Covenant. In a New Testament context, spiritual uncleanness has to do more with the sins that a person practices. When the Bible says to put away all uncleanness, it’s talking about specific sins. It’s not talking about the ritual things under the Old Covenant that would make someone unclean.

So, if you’re talking about the sins of the fathers being passed on to generations following them, that happens, but I don’t think it’s by any sort of magical curse. I think it happens through example and environment. As far as ritual uncleanness, we’re not under that.

What does Jesus mean by “resist not evil” in Matthew 5:39? Does this extend to providing safety for your family or protecting others in danger?

What does Jesus mean by “resist not evil” in Matthew 5:39? Does this extend to providing safety for your family, like it’s mentioned in 1 Timothy 5:8, or protecting others in danger?

Matthew 5:39 – But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

No, I would say that it does not extend to that. I believe that Jesus and the Bible consistently give people the right to defend themselves and to defend their families from physical violence. In Matthew 5, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks about the insults and evil received by His people from those who would resist or oppose them. He wasn’t talking about the context of physical violence, even when He said that someone would strike you on your cheek. In that day, that action was understood as being an insult. Sometimes in cartoons we see somebody take a glove off their hand and slap a person in the face. It’s not really meant to be a physical assault. It’s more of an insult to the person.

That’s the same connotation Jesus spoke about in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus didn’t say, “If somebody hits you with a baseball bat, let them keep hitting you, because that will bring Me glory.” No. The Bible itself promotes the idea that people can and should defend themselves from physical violence, and they should defend their families. I want you to think about some of those. Look it up for yourself in a concordance, by searching for the word sword. In the Gospels, at least some of the time, the disciples of Jesus carried swords with them for self-defense.

But friends, it is indisputable that the sword was never to be the method by which the gospel was advanced. The sword was not to be the means by which the Church increased its influence. God forbid. But Jesus and His disciples referred to their being in possession of a sword. It seems that Peter had a sword in the Garden of Gethsemane. This was for self-defense. In today’s context, this would be like somebody being armed. There were a lot of bandits and a lot of bad people around. And Jesus countenanced His disciples properly defending themselves, even though Jesus obviously could have used supernatural means to defend them.

The idea of not resisting evil through physical violence is the connotation given into it by pacifists. I don’t agree with pacifism. I understand why they make their arguments. I understand why they do what they do, and I strongly disagree with them. But that’s between them and the Lord. The Bible does give repeated occasion where it permits self-defense, including even amongst the disciples of Jesus who at times carried a sword for their defense.

​Is the saying “God helps those who help themselves” based on a biblical idea?

Can you comment on a saying that is used quite frequently amongst some Christian’s “God helps those who help themselves “? I understand that it’s not literally in the Bible, but is it figuratively scriptural?

I have a great anthology of writings by Benjamin Franklin. Benjamin Franklin was a very important person in the beginnings of the United States of America in colonial times, around the time of the American Revolution. Benjamin Franklin was never a president or even a governor, but he was a very influential man, and he was a publisher. One of the things he published was something called Poor Richard’s Almanac. As far as I know, the proverb, “God helps those who help themselves” came from Poor Richard’s Almanac, by Ben Franklin. Maybe that wasn’t the origin, but at least that’s one story that goes around.

I would say that “God helps those who help themselves” is true in a limited sphere. It is limited in the sphere of simply being able to say, “Hey, don’t be completely inactive. If you want God to move, get moving yourself. If you want God to work, get working yourself.” You can imagine somebody praying, “Oh, Lord, help me with my work. I just need Your help with this work. I need the desire to work. I need Your help to work.” In response, God might say something like, “Well, why don’t you get working, and I’ll help you help yourself, and My help will be with you.” So, there is a limited area in which that proverb is true. But let me tell you very strongly where it is not true.

It is not true as a principle of the kingdom of God. Where we are brought into right relationship, this is not the way it is. We are not brought into right relationship with God because we’ve tried our best. God does not say, “Oh, you’ve tried your best. Now let Me help you take the rest of the slack.” No, we are brought into right relationship with God completely and only by the work of Jesus, not by anything we do. It’s not by anything we’ve done in the past, anything we’re doing right now, or anything we promise to do in the future. We are not brought into right relationship with God by helping ourselves, and by God helping us with the part we can’t do. No, we are brought into right relationship with God because of what Jesus Christ has done for us, and done in us, and done through us.

In a very practical way, I would say to the student, “Get to work, God helps those who help themselves.” I would say to the person working a job, “Get to work, God helps those who help themselves.” But to the person who understands their need to be made right with God, and to walk in right relationship with God, I would say, “Stop trying to save yourself. Stop trying to help yourself. Look fully and completely to what God gives you in Jesus Christ for your help.”

​Why do I need to accept Jesus? I experience the same things that people who believe experience (good and bad). So why do I need religion?

I keep asking myself, why do I need to accept Jesus? Because in my life, I experience the same things that people who believe experience (good and bad). So why do I need religion?

Thank you for your question. Let me tell you why you need religion. Let me tell you why you need Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and He’s God the Son. Jesus said that He was the only way for people to come into right relationship with God. Jesus said, “I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

I’ll be very honest with you. It wouldn’t matter if Jesus would make your life better, or if Jesus would make your life worse. The only way for you to enter into right relationship with God is through who Jesus Christ is and what Jesus Christ has done for you, especially what He did at the cross and in His resurrection.

Maybe you’re looking at purely on terms what benefits yourself. I’ll be honest with you. To become a Christian means to put your faith in Him, to trust in, rely on and cling to Jesus Christ and all of who He is, and all of what He did, according to the Bible. It means to bring the real you to the real Jesus. If you do that, in some ways your life will get better, and in some ways, it’ll probably get worse. That’s how it is. You need to understand that. You need to sober-mindedly decide if you’re going to accept or reject Jesus Christ.

But I will also tell you this, very plainly and directly. Not only does life and happiness in this life depend on putting your whole faith in Jesus Christ, but it also matters for eternity. You should do it because it’s the right thing to do, and because Jesus Christ is who He said He was, and He proved it through His resurrection. That’s why you should do it.

​Why do some people say they are Israelites today?

Well, there are people who are Israelites today. They are genetically descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and they are of Israel according to the flesh. There is also Israel according to the Spirit. Every person who is a believer of Jesus Christ is Israel according to the Spirit. Spiritual Israel is a true concept. The problem isn’t that people believe in the concept of spiritual Israel. The problem is when they stop believing in God’s continuing role for genetic Israel. God has and continues to have a real, genuine place for genetic Israel in His plan.

​Do you have any advice to share about witnessing to a Mormon?

In my own experience in speaking to Mormons about Christianity, I have found Mormons to be remarkably uninterested in theology and doctrine. They don’t really care about theology. If you try to show them that they’re wrong according to the Bible or according to theology, they just haven’t cared very much. But they’re not in Mormonism for the theology. They’re in it for the morals. They’re in it for the community. I’m sure that that’s decreasing these days, as the Mormon church becomes more and more progressive and less and less biblical, even in its morality. It’s long been unbiblical in its theology, but now it’s becoming less and less biblical in its morality. Mormon theology does not present the God of the Bible.

​When and how did the people in Bible times hear and know about the prophets in the Old Testament? Was it in the Law? Was the entire Old Testament given to them?

It came in stages. First, the prophets would speak their message by voice, but then it would be recorded either by the prophet himself or by an associate. Over time, the copies of those words of the prophets would be distributed throughout Israel.

The first five books of Moses, known as the Law or the Torah, were gathered and read all around Israel throughout their history by the Levites. The priests and the Levites had the responsibility to bring the Word of God to the people of Israel. That would have been the first five books, the Torah, and then other books were added to that by the guidance of the Holy Spirit over time. They didn’t have Bibles as we had Bibles. But there was a fair amount of access to the Scriptures which existed in their time, because of the commands of the teaching priests and Levites. That’s really a wonderful subject to discuss.

How can Hell be a place of fire and darkness? Wouldn’t the fire light up the darkness?

Maybe God has fire in Hell that doesn’t give light, and only gives darkness. The Bible tells us that in Heaven there is no sun because the Lamb will be the light of the new heavens and the new earth. In hell, it could be just the opposite, and things that we would normally think would have light don’t have light in hell. I don’t know if we get a biblical explanation or description of it. But it’s no problem for God to accomplish it.

​Could you share the top commentaries you use or study tools?

I’ve got a lot of favorite commentators. I like to read a lot of Charles Spurgeon, which is evident in my commentary. For the Old Testament, I like commentators like Derek Kidner; I think he’s a tremendous commentator. Joyce Baldwin has some great commentaries in the InterVarsity Press series. I try to read a lot of F.B. Meyer; he’s helpful. Adam Clark has a tremendous commentary. John Trapp is an old Puritan guy that I really appreciate.

For the New Testament, I really appreciate the work of Leon Morris. He may be one of my favorite commentators. F.F. Bruce has a lot of good stuff in there. Throughout the whole Bible, I also appreciate the work of James Montgomery Boice. I find D. Edmond Hiebert to be a careful commentator. Romans:  Verse-by-Verse by William Newell is a fine commentary. He has works on Hebrews and Revelation as well. Those are some just quick ones off the top of my head. Maybe for a future program, we’ll make that a lead question, and I’ll actually show you some of the commentaries that I’m interested in, and why I find them helpful.