Well, we want to have a little time for you to just share with me and I know I'm up here talking at you all the time and you never get to talk back at me. So I want to give you an opportunity to do that. What we like to do in these sessions is just let you ask questions about the church, something about the Bible. It's not Stump the Pastor. We want to get that straight at the beginning. The idea is not to ask me questions I can't answer, but make me look good. Ask me questions (laughter) that I can answer which will help a lot.
Okay, there's a hand right up there. Just stand up and...right there.
QUESTIONER: I've always been interested in the mentally retarded, mental illness and all that and that's my general ____________. The specific question I'd like to ask is what is the status of a mentally retarded person who has been mentally retarded from birth or maybe made a, I guess, what you'd call a vegetable. Do...are they accountable to God for their sins or how did...why did God allow _________.
JOHN: Well, you know, _________ you've asked me a whole pile of questions. Why does God allow it? I don't know. You ask me why questions and I'm already stuck because I don't know why. But I do know that God has His own purposes. For example, in Exodus, chapter 4, "the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth?" Just listen to this. "Who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I the Lord?" In other words, the people who come into the world with some handicap may be no less, or are no less the creation of God. Now, what God's purposes are in those individual cases, only God knows. Keep in mind that I don't think it's God's specific purpose in the creation of man that man should be so made. But I think that is the inevitability of the curse of sin, which falls under His permissive will. And then I think that in the case of a mentally retarded individual, a person who is a vegetable or whatever, God alone is the Judge and I would think that it's only, you know, it's only known to Him just exactly what the situation is. I would say this, though, that I believe personally that if a child grows up, you know, handicapped mentally, retarded or whatever and that child dies, God is not going to punish a child eternally for a decision he couldn't make. And so I'm convinced that it's no difference than the child previous to the age of accountability. And Jesus said "Suffer the little children to come unto Me and forbid them not for of such is the kingdom of Heaven." David's infant son died. David said, "he cannot come to me, but I shall go to him." David had the confidence that his son was in the presence of God. And Jesus said that in effect. I believe God would treat those people who have an infantile mind the same way He would treat an infant. So that without a conscious rejection of Jesus Christ, without a conscious rejection of the revelation of God in creation or whatever as Romans 1 says, without an overt rejection of those things, God's not going to hold a man accountable or a woman. So, I think in a case where you have retardation or you have a mental handicap and the person is not responsible for his own behavior, that God would never hold them eternally accountable for something he could never make a decision about. So, I think God treats them with great love and great care and I think you see that just in the nature of God. I mean, God is too loving to be unnecessarily unkind to too just to be unfair.
Somebody else have a question? Yes, right here.
QUESIONER: __________ 1 Timothy 4:1.
JOHN: I Timothy 4:1.
JOHN: Okay. I Timothy 4:1 says, ""Now the Spirit speaketh specifically that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons," so forth. I don't believe...he was saying is this somebody who loses their salvation. No, I don't think so. I don't think you can make the word "some" into a Christian, necessarily. "Some shall depart from the faith..." Some within the framework of Christianity will depart from the faith. And, of course...for example, I was just reading today in the latest issue of the Evangelical Press news service, which comes out every week and I just got it today so it's hot off the wires. Claremont theological school has just hired a man who believes that the biggest myth in the Bible is the incarnation of Jesus Christ. And he has spent years, he's written seven books, one of which majors on the myth of God incarnate. All right. He is teaching at Claremont Graduate School of Theology, which is under the name of Christianity. I think that's what you have in view here. Departing from the faith...what faith?...the faith. That's a very important concept. Thefaith is not faith, but the faith. It's not the act of belief; it's the content. In other words, he's not departing from believing, he's departing from thefaith. What faith? Jude calls it the "once for all delivered to the saints" faith. And what is the "once for all delivered to the saints" faith? It's here. And so in the latter times, the Spirit says that there will be people who, under the name of Christianity and under the guise of teaching God's truth, will depart from the historic faith. And I don't think it has anything to do with people losing their salvation. I think that they simply teach the doctrines of demons. It's false teachers. That's the key.
Okay, right here.
QUESTIONER: Okay, in Luke 24:39...
JOHN: Luke 24:39. I told you before, this is not Stump the Pastor (laughter) so you have to ask me questions I know.
QUESTIONER: Okay, in Luke 24:39 Jesus told his disciples not to touch, or to touch Him to see that He's not a ghost after He was risen from the dead.
QUESTIONER: Okay, now in John 20:17, He says don't because He has not ascended to Heaven...
QUESTIONER: ...__________do and don't.
JOHN: Sure, that's a good question. Jesus said, "handle Me and see; a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see Me have," Luke 24:39. On the other hand, He said to Mary, "don't touch Me. I have not yet ascended to My Father." The difference is in the Greek verb and the King James doesn't help you there. You see, what He said to Mary was don't hang onto Me. In other words, Mary Magdalene was so broken up when Jesus died. Right? She was just really broken up. And, of course, when all of the sudden He appeared to her in His resurrection, well, she just wanted to hang onto Him. And so she was literally clutching Him. And He says, you can't hang onto Me now cause I have to ascend to My Father. So the difference was simply the fact that He said, reach out and touch Me to see that I'm real, but to Mary He said, don't hang onto Me; I gotta go back. And even in her mind, you know, I'm back to prove to you I'm alive. I'm not back to stay so don't hang onto Me. You're gonna have to release Me to go back to My Father. Okay? So really a difference in the Greek verb helps to clarify that.
JOHN: Yeah, she has a friend at work who is a Seventh Day Adventist and she wanted to know whether they are saved. You know, I don't care whether you're a Seventh Day Adventist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Catholic or whatever. If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and you put your confidence in Him and His death and resurrection on your behalf, you're saved. And every Seventh Day Adventist who's ever done that is saved. As to the individual, I really don't know, but I'm convinced as I try to examine what I see as current, the current manifestation of people in Seventh Day Adventism, and I'm pretty convinced that many of them really do know the Lord Jesus Christ. Again, you know, historically, Seventh Day Adventism has the trappings of a cult because it was basically generated by a woman named Ellen G. White. And, of course, if you go back to the cults, you have Madame Blavatsky, you know, and you have Mary Baker Eddy and you have Annie Besant. You have all of these women who sort of spawned these kind of cultic things. And so some people have tended to take Ellen G. White because, you know, they read The Desire of the Agesand all that stuff that comes out from Ellen G. White as if it was really truth. But I think...and, of course, they believe in soul-sleep. They believe that when you die, you just go out of, you know, you go into a coma until some time in the future and we don't believe that. They also attach a pretty strong and rigid legalism to the issue of living the Christian life in regard to, well, they used to not allow you to drink Coke and coffee and keep the Sabbath and so forth. But it seems recently there has been a greater concentration among those people on the Lordship of Jesus Christ. And I know I've met many of them who really do know Christ. So I don't think you can classify them by that system as non-Christians.
JOHN: Yeah, if she's keeping the Sabbath, yeah, yeah. Well, they do keep, they keep the Sabbath. That's right. And, you know, but I mean...
JOHN: ...yeah, and she's a vegetarian. Mm-hmm. Oh, I know, I was...I've eaten those walnut burgers at the Adventist Hospital (laughter).
JOHN: I'll take a Big Mac (laughter) myself. Anyway...
QUESTIONER: In Matthew 24 where it says this generation will not pass away, does that have anything to do with the 1948 ______________?
JOHN: That's one interpretation. The generation that sees the fig tree bud will not die off until all these things be fulfilled. And if in fact we can interpret the fig tree budding as the rebirth of the nation Israel, then the generation alive in 1948 to see that, will be the generation alive when all these things are fulfilled. But there are other interpretations of that. "Genea" can mean generation and then you can argue about how long a generation is, whether it's 40 to 80 years and everybody stops somewhere in there. People who are...used to say it's 30 years are getting a little antsy by now cause it's passed. But the thing is, there are, there are some who interpret "genea" as a race and that what Jesus is saying is this people. It can be translated as people or nation. This nation, Israel, shall not pass away till all these things be fulfilled. That's just as great a prophecy, that Israel is gonna abide throughout history until the coming of Jesus Christ. That's another possible interpretation. Some interpret generation as a reference to the people standing right there with Jesus who would not pass away until this would be fulfilled in the sense of its prefiguring, which was the destruction of Jerusalem, because in 70 A.D. the destruction of Jerusalem was a sampler of the Second Coming. It was a sampler of final judgment. And they saw it that way, I mean, the Biblical writers. And so He...some say He was saying, well, your, you know, this generation right here isn't gonna pass away until they see this thing fulfilled, you know. It's kind of like Joel, too, you know, where He says even now you've seen this fulfilled. Right? And then it talks about that your young men shall dream dreams and prophecy and all these things. Well, that wasn't fully fulfilled, was it, because the moon didn't turn to blood and all those other things Joel said. But there was a prefillment, a sort of a pre-preliminary thing. And so some say that the generation that is there, that's standing there with Jesus, will be there when they begin to see what that's gonna be like as it's sampled in the destruction of Jerusalem. So there's several options in interpreting that.
Yeah, do you have a question?
QUESTIONER: Yes, I'd like to know, is it...after you're saved, is it possible that Satan can physically touch you or create an actual physical impression around you and if so, why does he?
JOHN: Yeah, he's asking, if you're a Christian and you've been saved, can Satan actually create a physical impression around you or whatever. Well, the answer is yes. And the reason I say that is because of II Corinthians, chapter 11 [this is in chapter 12] where Paul the apostle, no less than Paul the apostle said he had "a messenger from Satan, a thorn in the flesh sent to buffet" him. Satan was permitted by God to bring upon Paul a certain disease or certain problem, but it was for his own good. If you go to the book of Job...right? And Satan goes into the presence of God and says, ah, you don't have a faithful man in the world. And God says, yes, I do; I have Job. He's a faithful man. Satan says, he's faithful because you've blessed him so much. Let me get at him a little while and he'll bail out. So God says all right. So He let Satan go and Satan literally oppressed Job in a severe way. So there's no question in my mind and...but I think the thing you have to remember is that there are two kinds of things like this. Now, ____ keep in mind that no evil thing befalls someone from God. All right? But God will use those things. God doesn't invent trials and temptations but allows them, because they try our faith and make us strong. Right? So as a Christian, I believe God allows Satan to tempt me. God allows Satan to put me through trials. God allows Satan to get on my case a little bit, because then when I, when I win the victory in the strength of the Lord, I'm stronger next time.
But that's different than being obsessed or depressed or whatever by Satan. That's another thing. And that's where a believer begins to cultivate sin in his life. He begins to lose the warfare, wrestling against flesh..."not against flesh and blood, but principalities, powers, the rulers of darkness, spiritual wickedness in high places," and as you begin to live an unholy life, you lose the breastplate of righteousness, you're wide open, you're vulnerable because of your sin. Then I believe Satan can really mess you up even as a Christian. And the devil goes around "like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour." And the Bible says, if you resist the devil, he'll flee from you, but if you don't resist him, he not gonna flee.
So there are two ways to look at it. One is that God allows Satan to bring you a certain amount of temptation. He did Jesus, didn't He. He tempted Christ, but Christ came through with victory and I think God wants us to do that. But that's different than when we begin to sin and we begin to walk in unrighteousness and then Satan begins to crowd in our lives and mess everything up. And I think he can make people sick. I think he can mix up their minds and all kinds of things. But the solution, as I've said so many times, is not to go get exorcised or to go do some weird stuff. The solution is to confess your sin. Resist the devil and he'll run away. I don't thing it's mystical. I just think it's rather simple.
QUESTIONER: In your study _________ learning about where Paul and the apostles __________________________________...
QUESTIONER: Why weren't they allowed to do it in Asia?
JOHN: Well, you're talking about in the book of Acts when Paul had gone to Galatia and he finished his ministry in Galatia and he was moving west and he said we wanted to go into Asia, but the Holy Spirit said no and then we turned to the right to go to Bithynia and the Holy Spirit withstood us again. They couldn't go east; they'd been there. They couldn't go south; the Holy Spirit said no. They couldn't go north; the Holy Spirit said no. So they just kept walking and finally they got to the gulf and they...what'll we do now, Lord. And then, remember, Paul had a vision and a man from Macedonia came to him and gave him the Macedonia call and said come over and help us. The whole point is this: God wanted them in Macedonia. So if God wanted them in Macedonia, He just shut the doors elsewhere.
To give you an illustration of it, ten years ago when I was working on the staff of Talbot Seminary and asking the Lord to lead me to a church, there was a church that called me and they said to me, you know, we might be interested in having you be our pastor if you'd like to talk with the board. And it was a good, large church, a church of, I don't know, 1,500 people. So it was even bigger than Grace was in those days. And so I went to talk to this...these people in the pulpit committee and they...they said, you know, asked me all the questions and I told them everything I knew in about 30 minutes and (laughter)...and then they said, well, we'll be getting in touch with you. And so I didn't hear anything for a long, long time. And finally I'd heard by the grapevine that they felt that I was not...I was not the person they wanted. Well, the Lord closed the door and I'm really glad about that. The Lord said, you can't go to Asia; you gotta go to Panorama City, that's all (laughter). And, you know, that's just in the parameters of God's sovereign will. Paul wouldn't have known at the time why, but he found out why because he was able to cross the gulf and plant the gospel in the east coast of Europe, as it were, and to break open a whole new territory for Christ. And, of course, later on he circled right back through Asia and founded the seven churches of Asia Minor. It was only a question of God's timing, see.
QUESTIONER: Question I have, it started in a Biblical criticism course I had at a fairly liberal Christian college. And I know about some of the way the New Testament manuscripts were copied on and so on. And I know that the New Testament scribes who were copying weren't as meticulous as those who copied the Old Testament. And I wondered if you'd clear up for me how we can really be sure that the Bible is inerrant in terms of New Testament, you know, in terms of their additions or subtractions from the Scriptures.
JOHN: Yeah, the question he's asking is how can we be confident that what we have in the text of the Bible is accurate. And that's a, that's a long question. If you'll wait about a year, I'm just finishing a book on that. And it's gonna be called Take God's Word For Itand Regal Books Gospel Light will publish it and it'll be about 12 chapters on the subject of the Bible and its inerrancy and we'll be dealing with what is called canonicity, which is the question, really, you're asking.
But in very short terms, let me show you the simplest approach and that is this. We believe that the manuscripts that we have have been superintended by God. That's the simplest answer. God would not write a Bible and then abandon the process of preserving it. And so I believe that, substantially, the manuscript that we have today upon which the English Bible is based is, basically, that which God first inspired. And I think the issue primarily is an issue surrounding the character of God. What kind of a God would it be, and this is where the critics lose me, what kind of God would it be who is known to be a perfect God, who is known to be a flawless God, if He then produced a flawed revelation? First of all, that would be inconsistent with His nature. So to begin with, we assume then, at least I do, that if God is perfect, that what God produces will equally be perfect. The same is true in the creation of man. When God made man, He made him the way He wanted him to be and man fell. And I think, basically, when God revealed the Word of God, it was the perfect expression of His own mind. Now, I think, in great measure, we have to also conclude that the same God who could produce a perfect revelation could superintend it so that succeeding generations would get it, substantially, in its perfection. And so I think that's the basic issue. Now, you can go into details on the subject of manuscripts and how they were copied and those kinds of things and I think that those will not dispel the argument. I think, for example, if you were to get Geisler and Nix, who have written a book on the Bible itself, and read their section on canon, and particularly on the New Testament manuscripts, you'd see how God has preserved those. I don't think it's a difficult argument. I just...I don't think we have time to go into all of the features of it here. But I think the substance of the argument is found in the character and the nature of God as a perfect being. And I think that God would not reveal a revelation upon which the salvation of mankind through all of its history was dependent, and then allow it be corrupted so that men could not know the truth through it or He would be defeating Himself. And I don't think at any point in time we want to say that God is a victim of man. So I think God has preserved His Word and I think this can be substantiated as you study that. Higher criticism is based on a lot of fallacies. And as I say, they're...another good book on this is Clark Pinnock's book on Biblical revelation. There are others as well. And as I say, I've tried to deal with that in the book that I've done just recently that isn't out yet.
But I do believe that the New Testament manuscripts as we know them are substantially the Word of God. We know there are some copyist problems in it, but those are marginal and minimal and affect no major doctrine, nor do they confuse the point of Scripture at any given place. Okay?
QUESTIONER: One problem that I often have faced is that I often listen to the teaching of the Word and I study the Word myself and then the problem is between studying or listening to teaching and then applying it in my life. And I wonder if you have some suggestion of some kind of bridge between the teaching and the application of the truth in my life.
JOHN: Let me just suggest this. In order to...there's really no simple, short answer to this. But how do you get from learning something to living it is what you're saying. And I guess that's...the key thing would be to make sure that it's not just up here, but down here. Maybe we could stretch the point and say it's not just "gnosis," it's "epignosis." It's a deep inner knowledge. And I think, I think, basically, in order, first of all, to gain that knowledge that's gonna retain itself, we have to learn by repetition. Okay? Isaiah says we learn line upon line, line upon line, precept upon precept, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. And so the key to learning is repetition. Now this is born out in the Bible. Have you noticed how repetitious the Scripture is? Have you noticed that? You can preach, basically...now, I've been preaching for 10 years here at Grace church and it's difficult now for me to say something that I've never said before. It's difficult for me to have a new thought about the Bible that I've never had before because you realize the Bible is tremendously repetitious. Now, it'll talk about the same thing from different angles, like the facets of a diamond. For example, in one passage you'll hear, "be filled with the Spirit." In another passage you'll hear, "walk in the Spirit." In another passage you'll hear, "let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly," and so forth. All of those refer to the same thing, living under the control of the Spirit of God. In another place you'll read, "put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ." That means the same thing basically. Another place, "put on the armor of God," which is nothing but putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, which is nothing but being filled with the Spirit, which is nothing but walking in the Spirit, which is nothing but letting the Word of Christ dwell in you richly. In other words, the same great truths are come at from many different angles. And I believe that initially what you hear has an initial and limited effect, but as you continue to stockpile this Truth, it has a way of changing your life. Okay.
Now, let me add two other things and this is a very brief answer, but there are two other key ingredients to really putting to practice what you learn. Number one is accountability. It's very difficult to live the principles of the Word of God unless you are visible before someone who's calling you to the task of doing that. You know what I'm saying? It's very easy to float if you're in isolation. If you live alone and nobody's around and yet you don't have to have visibility as a Christian, it's kinda easy. You can just kind of float along and you a ______ time. That's why I believe the Bible urges us to fellowship and "stimulate one another to love and good works," Hebrews 10, because where there is accountability, you're forced to a certain kind of behavior. And what you really do in a forced situation, is you retrain yourself. You know, it's like the old deal when you were in high school and you had to do push-ups in gym class. And everybody did the push-ups when the coach was looking, right. As soon as the coach turned his back, phsshht, everybody gassed out on the ground, right. Coach turned around, hm-hm-hm, everybody goes again, see. Or, you know, you're fooling around in the classroom, the teacher's got her backed turned or she's late, you know, and I can remember so many times, you know, we were doing stuff in the classroom and the teacher wasn't there and you hear the pitter-patter of those orthopedic wedgies coming down the hall and (laughter) the door opens and, phsshht, in comes __________, whooom, everybody hits the desk, phew, everybody's under control. You know, there's something about that, there's something about a sense of responsibility and accountability. I think the Lord tried to lay this on us pretty heavily throughout the New Testament by telling us about His return and the fact that we had to face the reality of His coming at any moment. But I do think that Christians being together in close proximity and rubbing one against the other as the Old Testament says, as "iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another," as our lives rub together, there's a kind of accountability that forces us to the task of living a Godly life.
And I would add another dimension, too, and that is that we, in order to make things our own, we need to articulate them to somebody else. There's not only the mutual sense of accountability, but there's that real deep knowledge that comes when you have learned something and then you have digested it and passed it onto somebody else. The things I best understand are the things I've taught. Right? And, frankly, teaching for me is learning. And I think that's important.
So, as we learn, initially, the first time a truth comes through, it has a certain minimal effect. And that's why Colossians 3:16 says, "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly." You see, there has to be that redundancy, that repetition, that constancy of the Word being poured into your life that begins slowly to mold and shape you. And along with that constant repetition, constant reading, constant exposure to the Word, as you live close to other Christians and there's a forced accountability, and as you teach, because I don't think any Christian should be one who doesn't pass on what he gains, as you teach, you will make that your own. And I think those are the critical things. Okay?
QUESTIONER: I'd like your opinion on lawyers who profess to be Christians and defend criminals or people who know...they know are guilty.
JOHN: Okay. The question is, what about lawyers who say they're Christians and defend people whom they know are guilty. All right.
Due process of law and the process of justice is dependent upon, in our system, is dependent upon advocacy. That is, you can't go to court without a lawyer. Right? All right, I think, basically, that what the Bible calls for is absolute truth, absolute truth. My feeling, personally, would be that if I were a lawyer, and at one time in my life I thought about that, but if I were a lawyer for about two minutes (laughter) I, personally, could not handle a case of defending someone I knew was guilty. Now, what they will usually say, and maybe this is okay in their own mind, I don't...I've never really talked to one about it. But what they usually say is this. We will not fabricate a case, but we will deal with the case that exists. In other words, plea bargaining, you know, for a lesser sentence or maybe trying to disparage the accuracy of another witness who's questionable. In other words, if an attorney...as an attorney, you know your client is guilty, it would be wrong, in my judgment to plead not guilty. That would be wrong because you know better than that. But it would be perhaps justified to plead guilty or to qualify that, and there are other pleas that you can take. You can plea bargain and so forth. I think it's possible, all that to say, I think it's possible for an attorney to defend someone who's guilty if he in no way compromises the truth. The fact of the matter is, not telling it is as big a compromise as telling a lie. So that's why I say, in my own mind, I could never defend a situation where I knew I was either veiling the truth or fighting for somebody who was guilty all the while. Frankly, as...knowing myself, I'd probably get up and say, "Judge, I hate to tell you this, but the guy is guilty. Throw him in the Klink," you know. (Laughter) And I don't want to mess around with it anymore than that, so... Really, I think it'd be, I think a Christian, I don't care what, you know, being an attorney doesn't change the fact that the standard is truth. I mean, and I was talking to a guy the other day and he was saying, you know, I listened to your tape recently and on your tape you said the whole American system is based on the fact that people don't tell the truth and that's true. If people started telling the truth, our entire system would collapse from the political heads right on down through everything. If everybody immediately, for one day, told the truth, we'd have absolute chaos in the world. Can you imagine what would happen if all the politicians, including the President and everybody else just told the truth for one day? Whoo! It'd be the end of everything. Everything would collapse. I mean, just think about it in your house maybe (laughter). If everybody just said the absolute truth all the time. So we do have a system that's based on falsehood and, you know, I think that's a real problem. I really do. I don't think there's any justification for not telling the truth. That's my own personal feeling. I don't want to, you know, I don't want to argue if any of you are attorneys. Maybe you have a different approach on it. But I think you could defend somebody if there was some question about the witnesses involved of if there was a loophole in the law or whatever, and you could approach it legally as long as you didn't compromise the truth. I don't know how you'd do that, but maybe that could be done. Okay?
QUESTIONER: Could you comment on where our Lord Jesus Christ was the three days between the time that He was crucified and the time He arose from the dead?
JOHN: I think so. That's one of my favorite subjects. You know, I believe that if you get into the Bible, you find out that the Lord's doing a lot of things for the sake of the angels. Right? I mean, He desires the angels to give Him glory and He has a right for that because there's no competition. You know, He gets all the glory anyway. But He has a desire that the angels show Him glory. For example, in Ephesians 3:10 He talks about putting the church on display before the angels that the angels may see His power and His greatness and so forth. So God is very concerned about the angels. Now, the holy angels and the fallen angels. Right?
When Satan, Lucifer fell and took a third of the angels with him and formed an ungodly host of Hell, they have been fighting against God all along. Right? And if you study the Old Testament, you find that Satan and his hosts tried to stop the Messiah. They tried to stop the prophecies. You know, they...the Messianic line got narrowed down to one little boy whose life hung by a thread who was hidden, you know. And then you have Athaliah coming in and trying to slaughter off all the line. And then you have the curse of Jeconiah and you have all of this. And then when the babies were born in Bethlehem, you have Herod coming down and wanting to slaughter all the babies. And then in Nazareth they try to shove them off a cliff. You know, Satan all along is trying to destroy Christ because he knows He has the right to rule in the earth. And He knows that he's a usurper and a false Christ and he knows that Christ is going to come and take his kingdom. So Satan fights Christ.
Now, I think that the final great culmination of Satanic effort against Christ came at the cross. And I think, literally, on the cross, as one old writer said, hell had high carnival when they saw the nails going into His hands. Because this was their, this was their coup de grace. This was their _____ ______, you know. This was it. And it was at that precise moment that the Lord took advantage of His moment. Because this is exactly spoken of in the Scripture, you don't have to have any mystery as to what specifically occurred. It's in Colossians 2:14 at least in one of the references...another one in Peter. But it says this. Here you have Him on the cross here and it says, "blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us." In other words, God had, of course, records of our sins held against us. Christ, as it were, went to the cross and took those. And very often when a criminal was, well, usually when a criminal was crucified, they nailed the list of offenses to the cross. When Jesus was crucified, what was His offense?...that He said He was what?...King of the Jews. And they nailed that to the cross. But other criminals would have their offenses. So, Jesus, literally, had in God's mind, when He was dying, God took all of the "handwriting of ordinances," all of the offenses that we'd ever committed and He nailed them to the cross and Jesus bore the penalty, all right. And at the same time that He was dying there, verse 15 adds this, "and having spoiled principalities and powers." Now, who are they? Who are principalities and powers?...angelic beings. And if He spoiled them, they would be the negative ones, not the holy angels, but the fallen ones. "He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it." What does "it" modify?...the cross. So in the cross, it was not a defeat by the demons; it was a defeat of the demons. Now, Christ openly showed Himself in triumph over those demons. Now, how did He do that? Look at Ephesians, chapter 4 and verse 9. Here you have another...I think this fits into this. It says that He ascended, but before He ascended...now when did Christ ascend?...after His resurrection. Right? Okay. Before that He descended into "the lower parts of the earth." Now I believe that when His body was dead, His Spirit descended. For what purpose? Well, that takes us to one other passage. It's 3:19 of I Peter and here you have a similar insight, okay. "For Christ suffered for sins," 3:18, I Peter. Okay, we know what's going on now, the cross again, He's dying, He's on the cross. Now watch what it says. He was "put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit." Okay? His body was dead; His Spirit was what?...alive. Now, where did His Spirit go for those three days? "By which," verse 19, "He went and preached unto the spirits in prison." Now this is when He descended. This is when He made His open show of triumph. He descended during that time and the spirits in prison, in my judgment, are described in the next verse. They are the bound demons who are bound because of the sins they committed in the time of Noah. Now you go back to Genesis, chapter 6, and we won't take time to do that, where I believe that you have the fallen angels, the demons cohabitating with women. But the point is this. There were demons bound in the pit. There may have been more than just those, because as you remember, the demons cried out to Jesus in Mark 5, don't send us to the pit, don't send us to the pit. So there's a place where demons are bound. And I believe that when His body was dead, His Spirit was alive and He descended into that place. Now, the spirits in prison I don't think are people; I think they're angels. They're captured and kept there, the ones that were disobedient in the time of Noah. Further, they're preaching. Some people think this means preach the gospel. It's not the word "euangelizo," to preach the gospel; it's the word "kerusso," to make a proclamation. And I think Jesus went down to that place, and to all of the demons bound there, He proclaimed the fact that what looked like their victory was really their defeat. And having proclaimed that to them as they were bound, He then went back through another part of the lower parts, Sheol, and scooped up the spirits of the Old Testament saints and took them to Heaven. Okay?
HERB __________: John, I'm Herb ________, chaplain at Northridge Hospital.
JOHN: Yes, Herb.
HERB: In my work, of course, I'm dealing with Protestants and Jews and Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons and you name it. One of the problems that we have, of course, and I'm on this ___________ committee and I have to respect everybody's position. The Jehovah's Witness talk about this matter of eating blood and they claim that an intravenous feeding is the same as eating blood and their idea is that you take a pill through the mouth, that's one way of getting it in. To get it in a hurry, you inject it into the veins. All right, if I know, for instance, that a certain pill, I'm allergic to it by taking it by the mouth. If I put it in my blood, I'm killing myself. I mean, it's the same idea. And from this they gather that putting blood through the veins is the same as eating or drinking it. Can you comment on that.
JOHN: Well, in the first place, you know, that's ridiculous reasoning. Eating and drinking is not getting an intravenous shot. That's two different things completely. Your body is made to function eating and drinking only one way. That's, I mean, that's not even logical to conclude that. The second thing that I would say is they wouldn't make very good Scotsmen because they eat blood pudding over there. Have you ever had, have you ever seen Scots black, Scottish black pudding? We were having breakfast one day and somebody says, "Oh, you've gotta try black pudding." So I said, "I'm game for anything." So they gave me a piece of this and I tasted it and I said, "That is without a doubt the worst thing I have ever put in my mouth." (Laughter) "What is it?" It's dried, baked blood. Well, that's strictly a footnote. (Laughter)
The other thing is this. This is the confusion of Jehovah's Witnesses and this is the confusion of so many of the cults. Those things which were granted to Israel as dietary laws were often for the health of the people, just as often to establish their uniqueness to make it impossible for them to have any kind of running intercourse with the pagan nations around them. Right? God was trying to separate them. They couldn't wear the same clothes as they did. They couldn't have the mixtures of the kinds of yarn. They couldn't eat the same meals. They couldn't go through the same cooking processes. God was isolating them. That's what kosher meant. They just couldn't eat what everybody ate. And this was God's way of dropping them in the midst of this pagan culture and trying to preserve them. Now, to take the things that God ordained for that people and that time and that culture and try to bind them upon people's conscience today is ridiculous, especially in the face of Acts 10 where you have all of those dietary laws in a sense summed up in the situation where Peter sees the sheet coming out of Heaven as he's sleeping on his rooftop in Joppa. And the sheet comes down, it's got clean and unclean and all of this and Peter, the Lord says to Peter, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat." And Peter says, no, Lord, I've never touched anything unclean. Are you kidding? I've been kosher all my life, you know. I can't do it. And the Lord says don't you dare call unclean or common what God has cleansed. And I believe at that point you have the setting aside of that whole system. I think you have it in Colossians where the apostle Paul says don't let anybody hassle you with a new moon or a feast day or a Sabbath day or any of those other things that belonged uniquely to the identification of Israel in their land as they were in the midst of a pagan society.
So, in the first place, I don't think it's logical to assume intravenous blood-giving is the same as eating because it's not going into your digestive system; it's going into your veins and blood has to be in your veins or you can't live. Secondly, I feel that it's wrong to take that standard which God gave to that people for their identification in that time and impose it upon a society today that can no longer be identified as Israel as such. And especially when the New Testament sets those things aside insofar as their purpose for God's people today.
JOHN: If Christ was going over that river where all the blood was flowing down from the temple and He prayed for four hours and all His sweat was coming down from His face and He'd suffered all night and in the morning He had been whipped up, wouldn't He die before the crucifixion?
JOHN MACARTHUR: Well, John, that's a good question and you know what the answer to that question is? The answer to that question is that Jesus was an unusual man. The Old Testament tells us that sin manifests itself on your body, your countenance, your physical form. You remember in Psalms 32, I don't know if you've read it, it talked about David. He committed a terrible sin. And you know what happened to David? His life juices dried up, he got sick, his bones ached, he became weak. Sin affects us that way. Right? Jesus never sinned. Right?...never committed a sin. So He did not have the attack on His physical body that a sinful person has which meant that, to begin with, He had a tremendously strong physical body. Further, I believe that if God ever made a body for His Son, it was probably the finest human body ever conceived by God. I don't think Jesus was some pusillanimous, puny, hammered down, disconnected, stovepipe man with a drawn face who could hardly walk up a step. I don't buy that. Furthermore, all you have to do is follow Jesus around Galilee and you know He must have been a man's man cause He never stopped walking all the time. He was an outdoors person because He would sometimes spend all night in prayer and He would sleep in the...He would come down...the Bible says every man went to his own house at the end of John 7 and in John 8 it said, and Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. That was His place. He would go there and sleep right out under the stars. And sometimes it says He would pray all night long. Tremendous strength, tremendous stamina and without sin attacking His body He must have had a human physical body without an equal in the history of mankind. And so He could go through that kind of experience and still be alive, and I'm quite confident, outlast a lot of people. In fact, I don't think He died from the physical pressure ever. I think He finally died because His heart burst over the pain and the anguish of bearing the sins of the world. Good question.
LINDA: Hi, my name is Linda. I have a question about during the rapture. It's...with all the children that aren't old enough to have accepted the Lord on their own and have been baptized, does He take all the children up or will He, because He knows everything, just take the children that He knows would have accepted Him?
JOHN: I wish somebody would give me the answer to that question (laughter). _________ the Bible doesn't say.
LINDA: I want some assurance.
JOHN: Yeah, well, the Bible doesn't say that. The Bible says nothing about that. The Calvinist says He takes the elect and leaves the rest. The Modified Calvinist says He...what you said. He takes the ones He knows will be redeemed. I would like to think that He'll take all the children who are under the age of accountability rather than leave them to endure the Tribulation period. Some believe He'll take the children of Christians only. The Bible just doesn't say. But I'll tell you one thing. God is too wise to make a mistake and too loving to be unkind. So whatever He does, you can promise yourself will be absolutely the right thing. Okay?
So, ultimately, like every question we can't answer, the answer is in the character of God. And as you know God to be, the loving God that He is, shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? And you can trust Him with your children believe me.
QUESTIONER: I have a question from the book of Genesis in the second chapter. I know that...
QUESTIONER: Genesis, chapter 2.
QUESTIONER: Verse 17.
QUESTIONER: And I know that because God is...has the nature that He has, that He can't lie. And He says in 17 that if Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of tree of good and, of the knowledge of good and evil that when they ate it, they would die.
QUESTIONER: But then when they did, they didn't die. They, you know...
QUESTIONER: ...He threw them out of the garden. And I was wondering how that could be?
JOHN: It says there "for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." And the idea there is that the death principle was introduced into their life at the moment they ate. In other words, death, the killing process began. It isn't the idea that they dropped dead on the spot but that they entered into the world of death. For example, all of us are dying. Right? When we were born, as G.B. Hardy says, somebody lit the fuse and it's been burning down ever since and we're zeroing in on boxing day, ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one and we're out. And that's the way life goes. It is a process of decay. Your skin decays, your mind decays, your muscles decay, everything starts to decay, your internal organs and finally you die. The procedure, the process of death and dying began instantaneously. Prior to that time, they would have lived forever.
QUESTIONER: John, I have a question in I Corinthians, chapter 3, verse 17. I Corinthians 3, verse 17.
QUESTIONER: "If any man destroyeth the temple of God, him shall God destroy, for the temple of God is holy and such are ye." Can you explain what the Lord means by the how He describes man being destroyed?
JOHN: Yeah, I don't think, I think what you have here is a physical thing. Right? "What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit." Right? So that if you constantly use your body as a believer to defile, you know, you defile the temple of the Spirit of God by sin, right. In I Corinthians 6 you've got the person who takes his body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit, into a harlot. Right?...commits an act of harlotry, fornication. He is defiling the temple of the Spirit of God. And what He is saying here is if you defile the temple of God, if you continue to defile your temple, then God's just gonna destroy your temple. What happened, for example, to the people in the Corinthian church later on who went to the communion table and turned it into an orgy and the love feast into an orgy of gluttony and sexual sin? What happened to them? Many of them were weak and sickly and some them were what?...were dead. And literally when they began to defile the temple, then God destroyed the temple. I don't think it's necessarily talking about the soul. I don't think it's talking about the loss of salvation. I think it's talking about the fact that God will move in an act of ultimate chastening against one who constantly defiles the temple. That's one way to look at it.
And short of that, I think, when a believer sins, he brings upon his own body defilement, because sin will always have an effect upon your body. The psalmist said sin shows on your countenance, on your physical form. If you sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind. You live in a dissolute life, then physically you'll suffer. That's really the heart of...Paul there is talking about rewards in that passage, not salvation. That's an important thing to keep in mind contextually. Okay?
QUESTIONER: [Skip] who from what I can determine is a born-again Christian, but he is a member of what is called the Local Church.
QUESTIONER: Can you tell me anything about that...
QUESTIONER: I don't know.
JOHN: The Local Church is also known as the church of L.A. or the church of San Francisco, the church of Chicago, the church of Phoenix, the church of New York. They basically take the roots of their movement from the writings of Watchman Nee. Okay? Watchman Nee was a great Chinese Christian who wrote many books: Sit, Walk, Stand, oh, lots of book. But anyway, Watchman Nee had this idea that because in the New Testament you had the church at Philippi, the church at Ephesus, the church at Thyatira, the church at Sardis, the church at Thessalonica, da-da-da-da, that that's the way it ought to be today. So you gotta have the church at Canton, the church at Peking, the church at Hong Kong, the church at whatever. And so that was his vision. And so he outlines this in some of his writings about that that should only, only one church. Now, there was a guy who was kind of a protÃ©gÃ© of him. By the way, Watchman Nee wrote in one his books that the thing that he felt he did not want ever to happen was that any of his writings would be the generation of a denomination. But that's exactly what did happen. Witness Lee came along behind Watchman Nee and Witness Lee is the guy who started the Local Church. The Local Church is...it's kind of funny because they've got a whole bunch of branches already in Los Angeles. They've got the church of Los Angeles Sepulveda, the church of Los Angeles South L.A. and the church of Los Angeles Orange County, things like that. But Witness Lee came along and took this concept from Watchman Nee and then he developed a thing which is called "pray reading." And what that is, what they do in those services, they're highly emotional activities. They don't put any signs up. It's almost like a clandestine thing. They're very, they're very aggressive though on college campuses and so forth and they believe they're the only church with the only inside track and so forth. But they have this pray reading thing where they read their Bible and then they say things in between to kind of induce an emotional thing like, and they would be reading, "If any man build, hallelujah, praise the Lord, thank you Jesus, amen. Upon this foundation, hallelujah, praise the Lord, thank you Jesus, amen. Gold, hallelujah, praise the Lord, thank you Jesus, amen. Silver, nween-nween, see, and that kind of thing and they get into the whole rhythm of that thing. The pray reading thing is the characteristic thing in their movement. They follow the teachings of Watchman Nee...of Witness Lee, whose major book is titled Christ Versus Doctrine, okay. They believe that doctrine is what has destroyed the church so you must eliminate all doctrine. That's one of their cardinal doctrines (laughter) that you must eliminate all doctrine. And that's why all they really do is induce an emotional feeling out of that, kind of, rather ecstatic kind of reading. And they tend to look down on every other movement.
As to whether they're Christians or not, I would imagine they probably have about the same mix as other groups of people who do know Christ and who do not. But it's very, a very strange group. And they do feel they're the ones with the truth.
QUESTIONER: And I'd like to get your opinion on Matthew 16 and 17 and particularly the last 17th verse, "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of Esaias the prophet saying, Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses." Does that mean that divine healing for us today is in the atonement and by faith in Christ's healing power, we should be healed because of His atonement?
JOHN: Yeah, what verse was that?
QUESTIONER: Matthew 8:16 and 17.
JOHN: Yeah, that's what I thought. Okay. Well, first of all, this is an important passage. And it says, "When the evening was come, they brought many possessed with demons and He cast out the spirits with a word, healed all that were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah, the prophet, 'He himself took our infirmities and bore our diseases.'"
This is a passage used by people in the charismatic movement to teach that healing is in the atonement. All right? However, this is very difficult. I have a section on this in my book on the charismatics in which I dealt with it. And I don't know whether I can recapture all of the data at this moment on this. But the point is this. I do not believe that the atonement provides healing. I do not believe that healing is in the atonement. That is, that because Jesus died on the cross, He doesn't want anybody sick any time and that all sickness is a failure to believe in what God did at the cross through Christ. But I do feel that what Jesus is saying here is that in healing and casting out demons and healing all that were sick, He was fulfilling what was spoken by Isaiah the prophet saying, "He Himself took our infirmities and bore our diseases." The question here is, doesn't "He Himself took our infirmities and bore our diseases" mean sin, not disease? Right? That's the issue. It's referring to sin, not disease. But there is a sense also in which Christ, in coming into the world, bore our infirmities, carried our sorrows, carried our cares. I do not think that it is saying that Jesus Christ, because He died on the cross, eliminated all diseases from all Christians who would simply claim that. I believe what it means is He came to die on a cross. The infirmities and the sicknesses that Isaiah is talking about are sin. All you have to do is go back to Isaiah, chapter 1 and he outlines that. In verse 4, oh, "Ah, sinful nation, people laden with iniquity, seed of evildoers" and he goes on about their evil. Then in verse 5, "Why should you be stricken any more? You will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot to the head, there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores; they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment." And here he is talking about their spiritual life. You are sick in your soul. And later on he says, but the Messiah will come to heal your sicknesses and heal your infirmities and what he's talking about is what's sick in the soul, not the body. But Matthew is stretching the significance to say, even in doing that, in His incarnation, He became a sympathetic High Priest and was capable of feeling our infirmities, sensing our pain and so forth. But I do not believe that healing is in the atonement.
Yes. Go ahead. You can just ask it without the mike.
JOHN: Okay. Joe is asking the question, are there degrees of hell and the answer is yes. And the reason that I say that is because that's what the Bible indicates in Hebrews, chapter 10, a very important verse. Verse 29 says this, Hebrews 10, "Of how much," watch this, "sorer punishment suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant, with which he was sanctified an unholy thing and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?" Now, what he's talking about here is an apostate. That is somebody who knows the gospel, knows the whole thing, has even come under some of the sanctifying influence of the Spirit...not salvation, but the influence of the Spirit. He knows the gospel and then he treads under foot the Son of God, counts the blood of the covenant and unholy thing, does despite unto the Spirit of grace, rejects the Spirit's conviction, rejects the cross, rejects the gospel, and he says of how much sorer punishment will that person be? So the idea is this. The more you know, the greater your punishment for rejecting it.
Yes, right here, another...
JOHN: She's asking what happens in a family situation where they continue to use profanity, take the Lord's name in vain. Well, how do you deal with that? What should you do?
Dr. Feinberg used to tell us, he's kind of funny about that, you know, he'd...if a guy was blowing smoke at him on an airplane, he'd take his gum out and say, "Would you like to chew my gum? I've been smoking your cigarette for the last ten minutes you know." (Laughter) But he was, that was the way he was, you know. But he, if he got with somebody who was using the Lord's name in vain and using profanity, he would usually say to them, "Say, I'd like to ask you a question. Are you a preacher?" (Laughter) Invariably the person would say, "Well, no." "I just wondered," he'd say, "because you certainly do talk about my Lord a lot, I just..." (Laughter)
I think in that kind of situation it depends. If it were a family situation where it was going on all the time, I think I'd say something. I think I'd say, you know, I think I'd say, you know, it's important to me that Jesus Christ and my Lord be honored and I'd be appreciative if you were sensitive to that. That's what I'd say, yeah.
JEAN: I wanted to ask if you know what is the Church of the Living Word?
JOHN: Yes. The Church of the Living Word is right up the street from the Local Church (laughter). And the Church of the Living Word is...there are at least three or four of those churches and they were started by a guy named John Robert Stevens who fancies himself as a latter-day apostle. And those churches are full of other sub-apostles and they are getting, they get lots of revelations. It's, again, it's an aberrant...they would probably agree to the gospel, to the basics of the gospel, but that's where they leave. They are, they tend to be charismatic. They believe in the, that these men are apostles inspired with divine revelation and they give this revelation. They are very cultic in that Stevens is a kind of a powerful guy with a quite a stranglehold on the whole movement, very dominating in that situation. I see them as more cultic than the Local Church. Yeah. There are several things written that you can pick up in the bookstore on both of those I think.
QUESTIONER: What was the first language that we ever had in the world?
JOHN: First language we ever had in the world...(laughter). Always kids ask questions like that (laughter). ___________ like something my kids would ask.
Um...(laughter)...Adamize (laughter). I don't know what the first language we ever had in the world was because of the fact that by the time you get to the 11th chapter of Genesis, God confounded it, whatever it was. He confounded the language. Remember the Tower of Babel when the people tried to build a tower to get to God and then God said, okay, because of that I'm going to scatter you all over the world and change all your languages. And we don't really know what that was. But what's interesting to think about is the Bible says that someday when the Lord creates a kingdom, there's gonna be a new language and I believe probably what'll it'll be is we'll go back to the pre-Fall language. So whatever that is we'll find out in the future. But what it is, I don't know. But I hope they don't have to decline their verbs and adjectives and...like the Greek. I know it won't be Greek. It could never be Greek because in the Greek language, there's not one single regular verb in the entire language (laughter), not one. So you have to memorize all the principle parts of every single verb in the language. So it won't be Greek; I'm confident of that (laughter). Yiddish, maybe.
QUESTIONER: I have been sharing with my mother what the last series on Sunday mornings has been about: The Divine Pattern for Marriage and Family. Okay. My mom is in Michigan. She has a basic problem of not being able to accept the authority of Paul. She wants to just deal with what Jesus' teachings were. And, like, her Bible just has all of that in red and the rest, I don't know what she deals with.
QUESTIONER: But she wants to reject Paul, I think, basically because of the line submit...wives submit to your husbands. I just need to understand Paul's authority.
JOHN: Okay. Acts, chapter 9: "Saul, breathing out threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem." And so here he goes to Damascus to kill the Christians. He's on his way. All of the sudden, "suddenly there shone around him a light from Heaven, he fell to the earth, heard a voice saying unto him, 'Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?'" Now, who's talking? Who was he persecuting?...Christ. Who's talking?...Christ. What does he say?.."Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest." Paul said, "Lord, what will you have me to do? And the Lord said, you arise and go into the city and it shall be told thee what thou shalt do." And so the Lord says, I'm gonna give you the orders. "And then the Lord said to him," in verse 11 "arise and go into the street called Straight, inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus," this is Ananias, and Ananias comes and he finds Saul and then verse 15. Here's the key. This is Jesus' instruction to Saul of Tarsus or Paul. "Go thy way, for he is a chosen vessel unto Me to bear my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. And Ananias went his way and entered into the house, and putting his hands on Saul he said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me that thou mightest receive thy sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." And verse 20 says, "And immediately he preached Christ in the synagogues that He is the Son of God. And all that heard him were amazed and said, 'Is not this he that destroyed them who called on His name' and so forth. Verse 22, "Saul increased the more in strength, confounded the Jews that dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is the very Christ."
Now the point is this. There you have the commissioning of Paul. Who commissioned him?...Jesus, Himself. So if you're gonna argue about the authority of Paul, you're gonna argue with Christ. So if she accepts the Word of Christ, take her to Acts 9 and hear what Christ says about Paul.
Father, thank you for our time tonight, for these dear people and every special life. We give you praise. And help us, Lord, to know that all that we need to know is in Your Word...that we don't have to fumble around trying to find the answers and we don't have to guess because all that we really need to know is here in this Book and more, Father, than we can even handle. So help us to be students first, and obedient servants second, and faithful witnesses to those that don't know Christ. Give us a great week and bring us together on Your day with great anticipation. For the name of Jesus Christ and His glory, we pray. Amen.
God bless you.
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