JOHN: Well this is your time again. I look forward to these question and answer sessions and I think it is so vital and important that we have a time of feedback and dialogue and we have some microphones right out here in the aisles and if you want to just come up to one of those microphones and ask a question why feel free to do that and we'll line you up and we'll start over here on my right and we'll go right along. All right. Give us your name first, all right?
JIM: My name is Jim Manivoch and I have two questions. The first on deals with Christian music. I have a lot of music that's hard rock and sometimes it's hard to understand the words. You can if you listen a lot and stuff. I was wondering what the Bible has to say about it and if it is wrong are these bands that are doing this living in sin?
JOHN: You're asking me about hard rock that is Christian hard rock?
JOHN: That's what I thought. So you're not asking me about worldly hard rock. You're asking me about Christian hard rock, which is difficult for me to understand. Let me see if I can answer you in a brief way. Music, like anything else in the world, is to be used for good or for evil. God has given all kinds of things to mankind that he can use for good or evil. Music in itself is a neutral commodity. I mean you could sing a song to glorify God, you could sing a song to glorify Satan. You could sing a song about virtue, or you could sing a song about vice. So music is a neutral vehicle. I mean it's like a printing press. You could print pornography or you could print Bibles.
Now so basically you're talking about a neutral commodity, but there's so many things that feed into that. Right? Culturally. Now I believe basically speaking rock music in and of itself is problematic period and I believe that for many reasons. One is rock music is a product of a disoriented despairing drug related sex mad generation. There's no question about that. The people who pioneered, well the first big rock singer was Elvis Pressley who killed himself with drugs and who went through women you know continuously and he gave rise to the whole rock generation. He was the first and his whole act was sexual sensual, it was terrible and nowadays we think he was comical because we've come so far.
But the vernacular of rock music, at this particular point, represents a generation that I have real trouble identifying with. And what happens is if you put a Christian message in that vernacular I think Christianity suffers immensely because I don't think you can take that kind of medium and use it to propagate a Christian message.
For example in the 16thchapter of Acts you have the apostle Paul on his missionary journey and he came to Philippi and a demon- possessed girl came out and started following them around. And the demon-possessed girl said of Paul and his traveling companion, Barnabus, "These men have come to show us the way of salvation." Now was that the truth? That was the truth. They did come to show the way of salvation. Paul turned around and rebuked that girl and cast a demon out of her because God does not use demonic mediums even to propagate true doctrine. You understand? And basically the whole rock thing is tied in with drugs and sex and the occult, the whole shooting match and people who come out of that scene find it very difficult to listen say to "Christian" rock without being pulled back into all that stuff that they had in their former life.
Now some people say, "Well we use it as a vehicle to evangelize." Nowhere in the Bible is music ever indicated to be a source of evangelism. Music is given in the Bible as a source of praise to God and I think God likes to hear what we're saying, for one thing, when we praise Him and I think it's good if we say it in a vernacular, in a medium that honors Him.
Now it may be, people say, "Well now wait a minute because Wendell Loveless used to write all those mushy songs back in the '30's and the '40's, I'm in love, deeply in love with the lover of my soul, that's smaltsy stuff. I don't like that stuff. That's crummy hymn _____, but people used to sing that stuff. And there's a lot of that smushy bar room kind of smaltz going on in Christianity too. But let me just say this: we are so far removed from that smaltsy stuff that that's not as offensive today because it's not associated with the way out fringe kind of drug culture. So it may be in the next 50 years that there will be some things that are a little more useful to us, but right now in this environment I think that just drags in a whole pile of stuff.
And sad to say there's a lot of problems in the Christian music field too with people whose testimonies aren't really what they ought to be, and there's some good people, but Amos 5 says, "Stop singing your songs your heart's not right." So I guess I have a problem with that vernacular and it's very important that the words be right. I also feel that a lot of the current Christian music, not only in a rock medium, but in a lot of other mediums too, is really lousy theology. And of course there are a lot of old hymns that are bad theology too. So you have to be very careful. I don't want to say now you get into the fine line of what is rock music and what isn't. I think that's a decision each individual has to make in a sense. The older you are the easier that decision is. I understand that, but you want to be sure you don't identify Christ in a medium that is demonic or drug related sex related and so forth. You want to make sure that music is distinct.
I will never forget two guys walked in, I was speaking at a rally in San Diego for Youth for Christ and a couple of thousand kids. I was sitting in the back row waiting to do my thing and there was this group up there and I mean they were just ripping the place up. And I don't know what they were saying, nobody knows what they were saying, God would only know what they were saying, but it was just a din. And two guys walked in, I've never forgotten this, they sat down beside me and there were pretty cool guys just rolling in. They had the long hair and the whole bit. It was a bunch of kids there and they thought they'd come in and see what was going on. They sat down and they heard this stuff and after about ten minutes of this the group finally stopped and this one guy said, "Hey man," he said, "I thought these Christians had something different. We can hear this anywhere. Let's split." I never forgot that. They just took off.
In the Old Testament particularly, and you can compare the New as well, the word new is used more times with song than it is with any other noun, more than new birth, more than new life, more than new creation, more than new anything is new song. If there's anything that identifies a Christian it's a new song. Something different, so I think we have to be very careful about that. All right?
JIM: Well in defense of it though I know people that have come to Christ through it.
JOHN: No, nobody comes to Christ through the median. They come to Christ through the message.
JIM: Through the testimony that these people give.
JOHN: Yeah. Nobody comes to Christ through the median. Right. They come to Christ through the message and they come to Christ because God has prepared the soil. We baptized a guy on Sunday night who said that he received Christ while watching a TV commercial. Well nobody got saved through a TV commercial. Something in that situation prodded his mind where the gospel seed had been planted and he responded and the Lord may use things like that. I mean let's face it, the Lord uses all of us in our weakness, the Lord uses us in our frailty, the Lord used Balaam's ass, but it doesn't mean we train jackasses to preach the gospel. Basically the Lord will use anything. The Lord will overrule and there are times, I think, when they do sing things that are clear and the words come through and the Lord will use it. You see the message is so powerful that it will overpower the medium. You know what I'm saying? The message is so true that it will penetrate the heart. I mean look, you look at your own life, I look at my life and I say how does God use me? It is not because of me. It is because the message is so powerful it overpowers the human frailty, so we don't ever want to say well because somebody got saved through that medium, therefore, that sanctifies the medium in all cases. You understand what I'm saying?
Okay, well I have another question.
JOHN: Okay. That's good though, that was a good question.
PETER: My name is Peter. I have a friend in another part of the country that I knew real well before I came out here and he wrote me a letter asking me a question that I already know your answer on, but he was sort of curious to know what you felt on it and so I thought I would ask it tonight if that's okay and then it would help him and it would help others __________. He said that they just got a new interim pastor at the church he's at and he says he preaches a hard line message many things that needed to be heard in this day of lack of commitment and playing at church. However, he preaches strongly that Christ must be Lord Master in order to be Savior. And I know where he's coming from and I just wondered if you would comment on that.
JOHN: Yeah there is a reigning debate going on now. Some of you are aware of it. I mean there is, it's really come to the point where there's a line being drawn in the middle of Christianity over whether or not Jesus has to be acknowledged as Lord in or for a person to be saved. There are some people who teach that you just have to acknowledge Jesus as Savior. You don't have to make any commitment to that. In other words if you believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose again you just have to believe that and you're saved. You do not have to confess your sin, you do not have to repent of your sin, you do not have to confess the lordship of Christ, you do not have to submit to that. All you have to do is believe.
Now historically this has been known as cheap grace or easy believism, but that's the critic's term for it. The term used by the people who advocate that is pure grace. They call it pure grace and it comes in all kinds of packages. Basically they're saying grace is so much grace that if you make, if you put anything into salvation at all you have fouled up grace. So if you say a person must confess Christ as Lord, or a person must believe, must affirm his sin and repent and turn from his sin and acquiesce in submission to Christ's control of his life you are now adding works and muddling grace.
Okay, on the other side we say this: the Bible very clearly says that there must be repentance. The Bible very clearly says you must confess with your mouth what? Jesus as Lord. Well they say that the Lord there has nothing to do with sovereignty; it has only to do with deity. So they try to prove that all that means is that you have to acknowledge that he is God. It doesn't mean you have to submit to his sovereignty. The problem with that is that is not what the term means and that can be shown again and again and again.
You might be interested to know too that I think in the book of Acts, no I'm thinking in the New Testament there are 300, it sticks in my mind there are 300 some odd times Jesus is referred to as Lord, 8 times he is referred to as Savior, and whenever he is referred to as Lord and Savior it's always Lord first and Savior after. You can't redefine Christ under those terms. But basically that doctrine comes because people have identified grace as a kind of super grace and they say that if you add repentance or confession, in fact in the back of the Ryrie Study Bible it says, "False theories added to the doctrine of salvation, repentance, confession and the lordship of Christ." Ryrie says that because he feels that if you have those things you've added works to grace.
My answer to that is not at all. It's just that true grace, saving grace produces repentance, confession and an acknowledgment of the lordship of Christ. And you don't give anything away. You certainly aren't having a work. So I do believe that the Bible is relatively clear without going into a lot of detail that Jesus Christ is Lord. That is the confession of the church. That has always been the confession of the church. And you see what they then say is okay these people who believe, just believe in Jesus, believe he lived, rose, died on the cross and rose, but they don't want to follow Him, they don't have to be obedient, they don't have to confess their sin, they just believe that how are they different than the devils in James? How are they different? I mean if everybody believes, if everybody in the world that just believes that is saved then it isn't a few who are finding their way in because there's a mass of people in Christianity who give mental assent to that.
So what they say then is you have one class of Christians and another class of Christians and that first class will be in the kingdom but not inherit anything. The first class are known as believers. The second ones are disciples and they call a disciple a second-level Christian when you get to that second level. They do in the book of Hebrews. You know where it says, "Enter into rest?" That's a second-level Christian. I John even they say I John is not contrasting an unbeliever with a believer. It's contrasting a first-level Christian with a second-level Christian. So they've got a whole system that they work that I think is just confusing and if you've heard the word carnal Christian okay that's their term for the first level. Spiritual Christian is their term for the second level. And if you've ever seen the little bird book that comes out of Campus Crusade they identify those three circles. The first has self on the throne. The second still has self on the throne but Christ in the life. The third one has Christ on the throne. The second one is the carnal Christian. Christ is in your life but He is not Lord. So that's a comfortable category called the carnal Christian and these people are saved, they're going to go to heaven, they just don't have any evidence, they don't have any fruit, they don't have any anything. To me that is, I reviewed a book that was written on that subject and I said the whole book was basically taken out of the white spaces in the New Testament, between the words, because I don't see that as being taught in Scripture. Okay?
Don: My name is Don and I've been going through the second coming of Christ with you on radio and I've really been studying all those Scriptures and I'm still a little confused here and there 'cause there's so much. But recently there's an article in the Israeli paper saying that they are ready now to push the PLO in Syria into war and back into Jordan and, of course, I thought would be a possibility of the hook that would bring Russia down on them and some others have thought the same thing. Now in Ezekiel 38 and 39 this is also confusing to me as to when this is supposed to start or begin if this would be before the tribulation would begin or in the middle of the tribulation. It doesn't say and I missed it when you were going through the radio.
JOHN: Well I tend to think, Don, Russia's coming down occurs in the middle of the tribulation.
DON: That's what I thought too.
JOHN: Because it's when they cry peace and safety then sudden destruction comes. And the first seal that is opened in the 6thchapter of Revelation seems to be identifying a peaceful conquering. Also Daniel 9 says they'll sign a pact with anti-Christ. And I think that Israel for three and a half years has peace and safety and then comes Russia sweeping down and the whole thing breaks loose. I think that's in the middle of the tribulation time. But there is also an indication of a gog and magog kind of battle that I believe will also occur at the end of the millennial kingdom. Some people get confused because those terms are used in both situations. Okay?
Don: Okay and B was also that now Russia will be attacked also it says from the east and from the north and I couldn't remember what verse it was if that was in Zechariah or where. I just didn't have time to look it up again and so I was thinking like you mentioned that the east would probably be China and you didn't know who it would be from the north and I was wondering if---
JOHN: Well I think basically Russia is the power in the north.
DON: Is that America coming over through the North Pole coming across?
JOHN: That would be the long way over.
DON: I thought that would be the short way.
JOHN: Well if they flew I guess they'd fly the North Pole route. No, I don't think the United States is there. That's pure speculation. There's no way to see the United States. People have said they're the cubs or the lions in Jeremiah and all that stuff. Some people think it's described the battle in Revelation 18. I do not see the United States there. I think we may be a part of the whole western European thing, the power in the west. I think the northern power is Russia and whatever allies Russia, of course, allied with the various Arab states around the south and it indicates that too, but I think the east could well be Red China. It's 200 million horsemen and the Red Chinese army as of 1959 numbered 200 million. We don't know what it is now so in Armageddon you have Russia coming down from the north, you have the army coming from the east, and, of course, everybody's going to converge because of the oil prices on the Middle East. Russia is already moving in there. Afghanistan and Russia fomenting all the discord that's there now and then, of course, Red China has got an eye on Russia and that thing is easy to understand. And the other obvious enemy in the deal is Europe. Europe has got to get in and save its rights so I think it's going to be Europe, Russia, Red China and then, of course, Israel in the middle of it all and the Lord comes and wins the battle.
DON: Did you hear, you probably then heard about that PLO incident that they're putting in the paper recently?
JOHN: Well I can't keep up with all of those things, but I think the general thing that you want to see is that Israel continues to be the theatre of the world. He's trustingly. Just keep looking there and keep looking there and keep looking there. It's all happening there. And all the fomentation and all the agitation and all the irritation is in that part of the world and that just keeps the focus right there. And it'll all break loose really. I believe that the prophecies of Ezekiel and Daniel, Daniel 11 particularly, the prophecies of Revelation really start to happen after the rapture of the church. And what we're seeing now is just sort of like before the play begins and the actors are taking their places but the curtain hasn't gone up yet. Okay?
ELAINE: Hi, my name is Elaine Ladate and a friend of mine in discipleship evangelism was witnessing to a man who claimed to be a Christian but he used Mark 10:18 to prove his point that Jesus was not God while on earth and I was just wondering what my friend could say to this man.
JOHN: Well he could say he was wrong. What was it? Mark 10:18?
JOHN: "And Jesus said unto him, 'Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God.'" You know what Jesus was saying there? You're not calling me God are you? He really put this guy on the spot right? Good master, what should I do that I may inherit eternal life? Jesus said, "You aren't calling me God are you?" Jesus isn't denying that. He's putting the guy on the spot. He's saying, "What are you saying to me?" You see you cannot just find one verse. This is what people do. People proof text their ignorance incessantly. They find, it's an old ploy.
It's like the guy who preached a sermon on the fact that women shouldn't have their hair in a bun on the back of their head. And his text was in Matthew 24, top not come down. And it says, "Those on the housetop not come down." See if you just pick out the right words, you just pick out the right words you can prove anything you want to prove. But the best thing to say to people like that is that verse isn't sufficient. You reach, you know what I tell people who have a question about the deity of Jesus Christ? If you really want to know the truth you sit down and read the gospel of John from Chapter 1 to Chapter 21. Read the whole thing and then come back and tell me Jesus isn't God. Don't pull out a verse like that. I mean a wayfaring man, as it says in the Old Testament, that would be a fool not need not err. There's one thing that's absolutely clear in Scripture and that is Jesus is God. There's no other way to explain anything about it. So that kind of proof texting, what you don't want to do when you're dealing with someone like that is get tangled up in the one verse. Put the burden on them. Say, okay you've given me your little verse, now you read the gospel of John and come back and tell me whether that's the right conclusion or not. Or read Colossians Chapter 1. Try that one on. Okay?
ELAINE: And if he doesn't believe that Jesus was God then he can't be a Christian, is that true?
JOHN: Oh no, he sure can't. If any man comes along and has any other Christ than the Christ of God let him be an anathema and a curse. That is the most violent flagrant denial of truth that is possible. To deny the deity of Jesus Christ is under cut all of God's revelation. Not only is he not a Christian but he would be judged severely, more severely than others who did not know the record and have it in their hand and deny the deity of Jesus Christ.
You know what I said, I was listening to myself on the radio the other day, I have to listen to myself now and then to see what I believe because I forget, but I don't ever listen, but I was sometimes when I come in the morning I have a chance to listen and I listened I think it was today or whatever and I was talking about the series on the wrath of God, is that what we started? The importance of hitting people with that, when somebody says, "I don't believe in the deity of Jesus Christ," maybe the best answer to say to them well just let me let you know that people who don't believe in the deity of Jesus Christ are forever in hell so you'd better be right because that's what the Bible says. You're cursed so you'd better be sure that you're really right 'cause it's a severe price if you're wrong.
ELAINE: Okay, thank you.
QUESTIONER: John if we make a decision with our lives and we desire to do His will and our heart really wants to do His will, is it still possible to make the wrong decision?
JOHN: Sure, but it's also possible for the Lord to overrule it. I mean if you, there's a sense in which if everything is right and everything is pure and you're really seeking to do God's will I mean we could say you're going to make the right decision. Well I don't know, well I don't know how to put this, you could be going along really well and then there could enter in some other motivation at the very end and trigger you one way or another. But basically in general, maybe I'll back up and say basically and generally if your heart is right you're going to make right decisions.
It is possible that even in the wrong decision the Lord will overrule it. I can illustrate it. A few years ago we didn't own the property down the street. We have a parking lot on the left side down there where the busses are and across the street we have a big vacant lot with a bunch of crummy houses on the back and stuff. We're going to put a field over there, a baseball field and stuff eventually, I think. It's going to be when I'm too old to use it probably, but our kids will use it. So one night, I think I shared this with you some years ago, one of the elders came in and said, "Man," he says, "You know we just discovered that, "this is about five or six years ago, "we have an extra $300,000 in the bank we didn't know about." And the guy said, "What? This is impossible." "No we've gone through all of our accounting and we have an extra $300,000 and we wanted to get this property down the street. It's the last property on Roscoe between this freeway and the San Diego freeway and the end of the valley, and boy and the Lord just preserved it so let's buy it." So the next morning we called up the Beatriax Foods or somebody like that, somebody food company owned it, and we said, "How much you want?" They said, "$300,000." We said, "We'll take it." And so they said fine. Come down and sign the papers and bought it. The next day a subdivider came in with a $500,000 offer and had the whole thing subdivided to put up condominiums and he missed it by one day. And we didn't know anything about it. I mean it had been sitting there for years and we just one day did that.
And then after we had done that, the next day our bookkeeper came back and said, "You know we made a mistake. We don't have that money." And the Lord overruled. I mean we made a wrong decision based on wrong information and yet if we hadn't done that where would we be now? We desperately need that parking and so there's a sense in which if your heart is right you'll make right decisions, but even if you fail based upon lack of information or human frailty God will overrule that. I mean the Lord used our ignorance to accomplish His will. But I don't think you have to fear, if you're really walking in the Lord and you're really obedient you're going to make stupid mistakes and pay the rest of your life. I think God's promise is you obey Me and I'll bless you and give you guidance.
JANE: I'm Jane Shravlo and John I'm going to sit down when I'm through with my question because I can't hear you believe it or not. It's related to death. I'm finding I'm going to more funerals than weddings these days and because I'm a nurse I see a lot of death. And I would like to know what the Bible says about the state of awareness of a believer from absent from the body until the rapture as far as things on the earth, things on heaven. I'm thinking of Luke 16:22 about the beggar being carried by the angels and about the passage that I can't find called it says the dead know not anything. Would you expound on that, please?
JOHN: Yeah. Basically in other words you're asking when someone dies, when a believer dies now or an unbeliever dies now what happens between now and the final resurrection. Right? Now in the rapture, which is the first phase of the final resurrection. The best way to understand that is that for the church the rapture is the resurrection of what? Bodies. Bodies. Souls are always alive and that's why Paul says in II Corinthians 5, "Absent from the body present with the Lord." That's why he says in Philippians 1:21, "Far better to depart and be with Christ."
So when a believer dies Jesus said in John 11, "He that believeth in Me shall never," what? "die." So the real person, the spirit, never dies. In your salvation the transformation occurred. I believe, as a Christian, you are created for eternity. When you became redeemed God created you for eternity. Your death will be less of a change than your conversion was. You'll just drop off the flesh and the flesh is your hang up. Right? "It's not I that sin," Romans 7, "It's sin that's in me." I mean it's not the new creature that sins. It's not the new creation. It's not the new I fitted for eternity. You know the other night when I was preaching and I said that when God justifies you He doesn't just declare you righteous. He makes you righteous. Somebody wrote me a letter and said, "How can you say He makes you righteous?" That would mean you're perfect and that exactly what I meant. You are perfect in terms of the new creature, the new creation. It is the flesh that surrounds that that sins. I don't want to think about that too long. It is very difficult to understand even for me.
So your new creation is fitted for eternity. So when you die all you do is lose the body and you go immediately to the presence of the Lord, Philippians 1:21, II Corinthians 5:7-8. Your body then is in the ground until the rapture at which time a glorified body comes to be joined with that spirit. Now I believe that when a believer dies at this point in time he is instantly, immediately and eternally in the presence of Jesus Christ. There's no waiting place. Now I believe that when an unbeliever dies he goes to a place of punishment. He goes to a place without God because when the beggar, when the rich man died he being in torment said, "Send somebody to dip his finger in water to cool my tongue for I am tormented in this flame."
Now ultimately the person will be brought out of the grave at the end of the millennium, the ungodly, and to the great white throne described in Revelation, and at that point sent to the Lake of Fire that burns forever and ever. But that Lake of Fire burning forever and ever is a little different than where they've been up to that point. It's very much like a person who commits a crime of murder. The police go out, they take the person and put him in jail. Right? Keep 'em jail until the trial, try 'em and put 'em back in jail. It's the same kind of situation. Does that?
JANE: What about that passage that says the dead knows not _____ ___________?
JOHN: Yeah there is a passage to that effect in the Old Testament and all it's simply saying is that the dead are cut off from anything that occurs in life. It's not talking about soul sleep. It's not talking about annihilation, going out of existence. It's simply that obviously when someone dies, I mean when I was a little kid in Philadelphia they had a really funny custom, and some of you maybe knew this, when somebody died they kept them in the living room for a couple of weeks, which really talking about raining on your parade. You're sitting there trying to play Parcheesi and old dead Albert is right in the--- I'm not kidding you. We had dead Uncle Joe in the living room for two weeks laying in a casket with his best suit on and all that pancake makeup staring at the ceiling and he didn't know what was going on. From a human viewpoint he didn't know anything. You don't want to take the statement the dead know not anything to be a great theological comprehensive statement about not knowing anything. It simply means when you're dead you can't play games. Right? You can't watch TV, you don't know what's going on, you don't read well and all that. So I think you'd have to take that in a sense that it means you're cut off from the activity, the knowledge of life. Okay?
QUESTIONER: John, there has been much in the media about the Shroud of Turin and I'd like for you to comment on that and tell us what you think.
JOHN: Well the Shroud of Turin is very intriguing situation. The basic problem I have with the Shroud of Turin is it's a one piece shroud. If you know how that thing works, it's a big long thing twice as long as a man that was folded in the middle so half of it came down the front and half of it came down the back. But in the gospel record it says there was a separate piece that covered the head that was lying by itself. So the shroud seems to me to be an they made sure to come up with some way to answer that thing. I was reading a book just this week called The Shroud of Turinand I was not satisfied with their attempt to answer that. Now the thing about the shroud that is interesting is that it apparently has an image on it. Now if you lay in your bed at night, you get up in the morning you don't see your image there. You bury a person in a shroud and then you take them out and take the thing off of them they don't leave their image and that is the key to the thing. They can't figure out how that piece of material picked up a photographic image of the body that was in it. In all their tests they say that it's obviously not painted on there, it's somehow transferred on there like a negative is. It's like a positive actually. And so that's the real mystery is how do you get a photographic positive on a piece of linen and I don't know the answer to that.
There are some people who are really convinced that the only way to do that would be through some cataclysmic transfiguration, some effervescent light and that would tie in, of course, with Jesus Christ and the Shekinah and the brilliant light in His resurrection and the power of His resurrection and all, so forth. My own feeling in the thing is if it is the real thing so what! You know if they don't believe the Bible they're not going to believe that thing and if it isn't the real thing so what!
It's like Noah's ark. Everyone wants to climb up and find Noah's ark. Who cares? We know in here it was there. If we don't find it, it doesn't matter to me. They found that you can get carried away with that stuff. Somebody said they got bottles, vials of Mary's breast milk in Roman Catholic Churches. They've got enough of that to feed a family of six. They got teeth from Peter. If all of those teeth are Peter's he must have been a baleen whale. They've got enough pieces of the cross to build a three-story building so I mean that kind of stuff is a very big preoccupation with the Roman system and the relics. And I'll tell you another thing. It's a big money maker for them too because there's a lot of pilgrims come to see that thing. Twice a year they pull it out and they come by the millions and they pay to see that. But I don't think anybody's going to be, oh I don't know. I guess I have to just say at this point I think the case is not clear as to what it is, but it's sure given a lot of people stuff to do.
QUESTIONER: Okay, thank you.
QUESTIONER: ______ recognition that Satan possesses the highest intellect in all creation, which leads us to believe that surely he recognized that Christ is God. What was the intent and function of Satan tempting Christ the three times he did? And I don't mean in terms of illustration to us that Christ could withstand the temptation.
JOHN: Right, that's a good question. See one of the things you see about Satan, well several things you see about Satan. One: Satan knows the story. He knows who God is. He knows who Jesus Christ is. You remember what the demon said in Mark 5 when the maniac was over there and Jesus showed up and the demons said, "What have you to do with us, Son of God?" I mean they know who He is. There's no question about that. And they know how it all ends. They can read Revelation. They know what's going on. I mean Lucifer knows. He knows the whole deal, but that doesn't mean he's going to give up. He hates God. He despises Jesus Christ and he's not willing to accept the plan as it is laid out. He is fighting, fighting, fighting, fighting against God, fighting against Christ. And so even though he recognizes the deity of Christ, and even though he knows how the thing is going to end, and even though he knows the power of God he is, listen to this know, he is as perverse in his reasoning as he is in his nature. You understand what I'm saying?
JOHN: So he does not reason with sure clear reason. That's why you have such incredible inconsistencies in Satan's domain. I mean he may have demons, a bunch of demons doing the very opposite of a bunch of other demons. There's a lot of inconsistency. You can ask the question if Satan knew that Jesus Christ was the Lamb of God why did he want Him to go to the cross? Why did he try to nail Him to the cross? Why did he even put it in the hearts of the people to do that?
QUESTIONER: But did he not attempt to keep Christ from going to the church?
JOHN: That's what I'm saying. On the one hand he tried to prevent the cross and on the other hand once the cross was done he tried every way he could to make sure it was really done.
QUESTIONER: So in other words he's just relentless in going ---
JOHN: He's relentless, he's perverted in his thinking, he's inconsistent. For example, he even had people going around casting out demons as a part of his system. So, you will find no logical consistency basically in the kingdom of Satan. If you look long enough you'll find that he runs into himself. Okay?
QUESTIONER: That does it. Thank you.
QUESTIONER: John, what is more important reading the word or praying? And after you answer that can you give us an example of your prayer life?
JOHN: Well the answer to that question is neither is more important. I mean that's like saying if you're going to have a conversation with somebody, which is more important that he talk or you talk? Prayer is you talking to the Lord. The word is Him talking to you. If you're going to have any kind of an interchange at all you've got to have both. So, there is no, you can't make one over the other. Basically prayer is a way of life. I perceive prayer as a way of life. I used to use the illustration that prayer is like breathing. You don't get up in the morning and say, "Now for an hour I'm going to breathe and breathe myself right into the day and tonight when I go to bed I'm going to breathe again." Prayer is a way of life. It is taking in the divine presence. It is being in the divine atmosphere. That's what it says in I Thessalonians 5, "Pray without ceasing." It's a way of life. "Praying in all things," Ephesians says. So basically prayer is an attitude, which is conscious of the presence of God at all times at all places so that there is a running communion with Him. And sometimes I confess to you the most fruitful times of communion with the Lord are when I'm not reading the Bible and I really don't have the words to say either. There's just a rising of the concern of my heart that I find hard sometimes to articulate.
So prayer, I think you have to get beyond the fact that I'm not denying that you need time in prayer, but you have to get beyond the fact that prayer is some kind of set routine. It is a way of life. I like to perceive it as the fact that in any given vicissitude or any situation in life the first reaction the believer has is to carry that thing to God. There's an immediate sense of communing, an immediate, you know I can't in my own life, I cannot tell you, I cannot draw a line between praying and hearing the word because the word is so much in my mind that whenever I see a thing happening immediately it goes through this biblical grid and somewhere in there my thoughts rise to God. It just sort of, now so that I think is really critical.
I think in my own life one of the things I've seen happen in spiritual growth is you come to the place where prayer is the most instant response to anything. The word of God, crying out to God, giving your heart to God in whatever happens and seeking His will. But also there needs to be a time where you're involved in meaningful prayer where you set things aside and you pray for specific things and I find that my own personal, in my own personal life the best time for me is at night. I have a difficulty in the morning because I have four kids and the mornings I spend with them. We read together in the word. We're reading through the Bible now. We're in Exodus and we're wading through all the furniture in the tabernacle. Melinda says, "Why are we reading this daddy? What is all this about?"
So, we're having a great time. So I explain some of the things to them and leave some of the others alone. But anyway, and then we read a Proverb. You know there are 31 chapters in Proverbs, 31 days in a month, so each day whatever day is corresponding we read that chapter in Proverbs and just go through the fact that kids aren't to be foolish, they're to be wise and listen to their parents. So it's really great. So we do that. And then at night I always spend time with them in prayer and that's really the best time for me to concentrate.
Normally in the process of a day I'll take some time while I'm studying to break from the rigors of study and I have at my right hand some prayer requests that I jot down and just go through those. But, I mean that's the best way I can answer the question.
QUESTIONER: So when people give you prayer requests you actually go through all the prayer requests?
JOHN: I do my best to do that, but it's very difficult. For example, with the radio we may get 20,000 letters a month that people ask me to pray for something. I can't. I have no more power in prayer than you do. I got a phone call today from a lady in Wheaton, Illinois. She called up and said, "Pray for my husband. He's got cancer." She called and wanted to make sure she got me. She didn't want to talk to anybody but me. She wanted me to pray for her husband who has cancer. Well, I can appreciate her desire, but I don't have, I can't get God to do anything you can't get Him to do. I mean at least this has been my experience. Lot's of people I prayed for died. So there's I do believe too that there's such a thing as a gift of faith, which I think expresses itself in a very unique prayer life and many people have that too. Yes.
TERRY: You make it hard to ask questions. I'm Terry and I've had the opportunity of several times being asked this month the same question and not fulfilling in answering the question the right way, I guess, but I have been involved in, as far as people who are close to me, who have entrusted their life with the Lord and they believe that they've been saved, but they're having trouble dealing with the things that come after that, as far as they think when they've accepted the Lord everything is supposed to be wonderful and no problems and there's problems and it's become very emotional to them and they feel like they've been deserted. Now as far as my answer to them I ______ to say that the Lord knows best. You trust Him with your life and it's not always going to turn out like you want it to but in the long run it's what's right, what's good for you, but that doesn't seem to fulfill them.
JOHN: Realize this: it's like the parable of the soils. Some of those people that respond to Christ initially and then the troubles of the world and the cares of this age choke out what started to grow and it gives evidence they never were really regenerated. The real test of their salvation will be if they still love Jesus Christ and affirm His lordship through this. If they bail out in the middle they give evidence that there was not real root to begin with. So from the parable of the soils in Matthew 13, we learn that the Lord is going to test the seed that is planted as to its genuineness. So you can encourage them along that line.
But secondly, I do believe that those who really are genuine can struggle and that is why it is essential for them to be involved intimately with other believers so they can find strength and resource. They need to be in a church. They need to be being taught because that kind of stuff is offset by the power of the word of God in their life and by the care and the love of other believers. So that's important for them. And there's really no easy answer, Terry, because the fact is you don't know if they're really saved either. The test will tell that.
TERRY: How do they overcome the emotional part of it, though. Like as far as in one incident.
JOHN: Sure. I Corinthians 10:13 says, "There is no temptation taken you but such is common to man. God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted above that you're able, but will with the temptation will also make a way of escape." And I can pick out what I believe about that verse at this point. I believe that the way out is through. They got to go through that and emotion is part of it. Emotion is just God-given release. It's very healthy and that kind of trauma is part of the test and if they go through the testing of their faith they will come out as fine gold. "Count if all joy when you fall into various trials," James says, "Knowing that the trial of your faith worketh patience and patience has a perfecting work."
So they should look at this. It's like John 12:20 is it where it says, "It's like childbirth. The Lord says, "A woman has great pain in bearing a child, but the very thing that causes her the pain is what gives her the joy" And if you can endure the pain the results are great. And that's were Job was. He said, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." And when He's done with me I'll come out like gold. So the thing that a real believer wants to do is say, "I'm looking at this and I'm not bailing out. I'm wanting to see what God's going to do in the perfecting of my life through this trial." A true believer, I think, has that perspective rather than the perspective of abandoning the faith.
TERRY: Is it right to put faith in a being able to change a person as far as that's what the problem is, trying to change a person who is still of the world and because you're in love it's hard. Emotions get in the way.
JOHN: In other words you've got somebody who said they committed themselves to Christ but they're still loving somebody who's not a Christian?
TERRY: Yeah, who's very bad in their life.
JOHN: I would nail it down as a real test of their, I think I would say to a person like that, "If you really want to show your commitment to Jesus Christ you have to cut the cord."
TERRY: Actually let go of that person then. Not try and help them, save them.
JOHN: Well you can try to help them, but you can't help them by being in their arms.
TERRY: Yeah, okay. Thank you.
ANNIE: Hi John. My name is Annie. I've been having a struggle with when I accepted the Lord I was told that I was judged first and God still chose to save me. Now I'm being told that I have to be judged after my salvation. Can you explain that to me?
JOHN: Whose been telling you all that?
ANNIE: A whole bunch of people.
JOHN: Jesus Christ died for all your sins, Ann, all of them. So that's taken care of, right? Okay. Eternally your sins have been judged. Romans 8:1, "There is therefore now no judgment to them who are in Christ Jesus."
JOHN: None. So that is settled, but there is chastening along the way where the Lord tries to alter our behavior. Psychologists call it behavior modification. We are at it all the time with our kids, aren't we? We're trying to modify their behavior. So the Lord says, I've forgiven all your sins. They're all taken care of, but you still have the flesh. That's the state you're in. That's the perfecting act of God has transformed you, covered all your sin, but in the practical aspect of living life you still have the flesh to deal with so you sin. So the Lord brings in trouble and chastening as Hebrews 12 tells us so He can perfect you, so that He can modify your behavior. It's like you do with your children. You discipline them for doing something then they don't do it because they don't want to pay the price. That's the only kind of "judgment" you'll experience. And it's fair to use the word judgment because it's used in I Corinthians 11. "If we judge ourselves at the communion table we won't be judged by God." But it's not final judgment. It's not katacrunel, which is kaboom. It's the chastening kind of thing.
Now I believe that when you go to be with the Lord Jesus Christ there will be no judgment at all because what will there be to modify then?
ANNIE: So come the judgment day then I'm not the one to ______?
JOHN: There is no judgment day. You've already had yours.
ANNIE: That's what I thought.
JOHN: When you go to be with the Lord Jesus Christ it says in I Corinthians 4, "Every man shall have praise from God." All you're going to get there is praise and even though you've got a whole bunch of wood, hay, and stubble, it's just going to get burned up.
JOHN: I mean it's just kind of removed and what's left is the gold, silver, precious stone and everybody's going to have praise. Why? Because there cannot be such a thing as a Christian who hasn't produced gold, silver, and precious stones. And we're right back to that Lordship thing that Peter asked about. There can't be an utterly non-productive Christian. That is to say that the life of God in the soul of a man does nothing. Can't say that! There has to be a product. You'll never be judged. You've already been judged.
ANNIE: That's what I thought.
JOHN: Great to know, huh? Don't let people tell you that anymore. Okay.
WENDY: My name is Wendy and my question comes from John 12. It's an easy yes or no answer. It's is Mary Magdalene and Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus one in the same?
WENDY: That makes sense that they're not one in the same, but when I'm reading this chapter it's all right it's after Lazarus's been raised and they go back to the home to have a dinner and everything and the next thing that happens is when Mary is anointing the Lord's feet with oil and that's Mary Magdalene, right?
WENDY: Then who?
JOHN: You said yes or no so I'm just saying no.
WENDY: Well the time when Mary, and I'm not sure which Mary it was that anointed the Lord's feet with oil and then Judas comes in and he's criticizing the situation and says, "The oil could be sold and the money spent on the poor to help the poor," I thought that was Mary Magdalene.
JOHN: No I think that was Mary.
WENDY: So Mary Magdalene never had anything to do with, she wiped the Lord's feet with her tears, nothing to do with any oil, at all.
JOHN: You know one of the things you have trouble with when you go through the New Testament is the Mary's. You have Mary, the mother of Jesus. You have Mary, the wife of Clopas. You have Mary Magdalene. Everybody named their girls Mary so there's some places where you really have difficult time sorting out all the Mary's. It's kind of like the James'. There's a lot of them too.
Okay, we're going to just take these four questions and then we'll go.
QUESTIONER: Hi John. I have a million questions but I'll stick to one with three parts. What happens to a or what if a believer makes unbelievers sin? What happens or what if a believer makes unbelievers sin?
QUESTIONER: Well sin they sin together or whatever. And what is the power or how severe is the chastisement of the Lord on the unbeliever and does the unbeliever lose his salvation because of that?
JOHN: The believer.
QUESTIONER: I mean the believer.
JOHN: The believer never loses his salvation. It's eternal life, right? How long is eternal?
QUESTIONER: Forever and ever.
JOHN: Okay, so that one's covered, right? So what you're saying is that if a Christian makes a non-Christian sin does God punish the non-Christian and what does the do with the Christian that made the non-Christian sin? Is that it?
QUESTIONER: How severe is that chastisement?
JOHN: Number one it's just as severe as God wants it to be and I'm not sure it's ever going to be the same. There are some times when God chastens us severely for sin and sometimes when He doesn't in His grace and that's up to Him, depending on what lessons He wants to teach.
QUESTIONER: But isn't that like taking abuse? I mean it's like be abusive because it's like oh yeah go ahead and confess your sins for any little thing and then you go and sin again.
JOHN: Yeah, but see if you have that attitude then you give evidence of the fact that you're not really born again, you're just trading on God's supposed grace. It's possible for a believer to make an unbeliever sin, sure. I mean a guy could take out a girl who's not a Christian and draw her into a sin or a guy could be a business partner and he could get his partner who is not a Christian to do something that was crooked. It's very possible. I do not believe that God chastens non-Christians period. I mean what for? When you get a shaped up non-Christian what have you got? You've got a shaped up non-Christian. I believe that it's like what Annie asked a non-Christian is going to get it all in the fury of the judgment anyway and that's why it says in Romans 2 that God is storing up wrath against the day of wrath for the non-believer. The Lord chastens us. If a Christian makes a non-Christian fall into sin I think the Lord would probably chasten, but that would be up to the Lord and there's way to know how He would do that.
QUESTIONER: I means even to the point of death though, right?
JOHN: Of what?
QUESTIONER: Even to the point of death for a believer?
JOHN: If the Lord chose to do that He could do that, yes.
QUESTIONER: Thank you.
KIM: Hi John, my name is Kim and I have a lot of questions, too, but I'll stick to a few. Two really quick ones, I guess. One is when after you become born again, okay, and we're still in the flesh is the sin that's still on us is it like a regenerate kind of thing? Is it like after like it's in the wake following behind us and I can't remember where I read it, I was looking at Scripture here. Well one thing about where I think it was Paul saying everything is of the evil one if it's not, I do know Satan can't be everywhere and he can't _________ in sin.
JOHN: The Bible says anything that is not of God comes from the evil one.
JOHN: What you're asking is if I'm regenerated and I'm a new creation and God has fitted me for eternity and He has planted the life of God in my soul that life has to be perfect right, because God cannot give me imperfect life. He cannot give me imperfect regeneration. He cannot give me imperfect righteousness so that if I'm righteous at all I am righteous period. And that is true. And that's why Romans 7 is the key. Paul says, "It is not I that sin, it is sin that is in me. It is not that new creation, it is the sin that is in me." Now what is that sin in me? It is my humanness so when that new I sheds the humanness its perfection is then manifest. See. That's the only way you can explain it. And it's hard because you can't cut you into those clear pieces you see, and you've all heard people say you're body, soul, and spirit and then you ask the person who believes that what is the difference between soul and spirit and they can't tell you. Or else they'll say something are our emotions and some things are our minds but if you've ever been able to make a clear cut between what is your clear thinking and what is your emotional feeling you can't. So you are a being. You have wholeness as a being and so you do righteous things and that's the nature of God working in you. You do unrighteous things that's the sin that is in you.
Paul simply makes a distinction for the sake of theology and he says you are a perfect new creation but sin that is in you in your humanness still manifests itself. Now you don't want to get to the point where you get a dichotomy going where you say that's not me, that's just my sin, so that's what's known as philosophical dualism and people who teach that therefore, say that when you sin don't worry about it. It's only your sin, what are you going to do? It's your sin, it's going to sin, right? That's really true. People say don't worry about sin because it's your old nature so if your old nature is your old nature it's going to be your old nature. Let it do what it wants.
I don't think that. I think you're one new nature. You're one new person. You don't have two natures, you have one nature. You live in Christ, Christ lives in you, but there's sin in your humanness and until you shed your humanness you can never see the full manifestation of that righteousness.
KIM: Just one thing real quick too. One thing I heard you talk about one other time is that if I understand the parable about the sowers and different grounds and things like that, something else I heard you say once is that even if we believe not or a believer believes not he still but he's faithful he can't deny himself. He's already put himself in motion. How does that happen because if you're---
JOHN: Well, you're talking about that text in Timothy and I'm kind of vacillating how I interpret that. I'm going to wait until I teach Timothy before I get dogmatic about it. But I believe that Christians can go through periods of doubt. Certainly the disciples did. He said, "Oh ye of little faith." And yet they were believers. And we go through the same periods, otherwise the Bible wouldn't exhort us to trust God all the time. So I do believe that there are periods when you can go through doubts and struggles and still be a Christian. That's all I'm saying there. But if you flat out deny God then you can't be a Christian. But you could have struggles and doubts, but I think you'd come through those doubts with the affirmation of Christ. Okay? Two more.
CHEN: I'm Chen and I want to know if there's a place in the Bible that says God helps those who help themselves?
JOHN: No, that's not a Bible verse.
CHEN: Well if there's like a place that indicates that or anything?
JOHN: Well let's see. I can give you an illustration of it. Back in Judges there is a great statement. You remember the great soldier Gideon? Well Gideon was a great soldier. He took 300 men and won a great victory and you know what his battle cry was, and I always thought that was a fabulous battle cry, his battle cry was the sword of the Lord and Gideon. Isn't that good? The sword of the Lord and Gideon. Not just the sword of the Lord and not just the sword of Gideon, but the sword of the Lord and Gideon. I like that. I think that that's true that God helps them that help themselves in some ways, in this ______. I don't think God's going to do much through you if you're not going to do much, you're not going to just sit there and say all right God go, do. I could say well the Lord has anointed me to preach so I'm just going to get up in the pulpit and wait until He gives me something to say. And I think that's a truism, but not biblical. Okay?
DEE DEE: My name is Dee Dee Kush and you've sort of answered my question tonight, but I'm still real confused. I happen to work with a group of Christians and they are charismatic and to me it seems as though they dwell as much on demons and bad spirits as they do on the Lord and they also claim that there's a couple of these people have certain vices such as drinking and smoking and I try to tell them, they say they defend themselves saying that's it's the spirit in me, it's the devil in me. And I try to tell them that it's their humanness, that's it's just---
JOHN: Yeah, the demon of post nasal drip. I've read about that.
DEE DEE: And could you just, just so that I have some kind of defense when I try to talk to them.
JOHN: Basically Dee, that is what is known as a classic cop out.
DEE DEE: Not assuming the responsibility, right?
JOHN: Right. The New Testament clearly indicates you are responsible. Why else the exhortations? I mean you read through Paul's epistles start in Romans 12 and read through his epistles and everything is directed at you. Nothing is directed at the demons. And nothing tells you to get the demon of drink or the demon of cigarettes or the demon of postnasal drip. That's true. I've read the testimony of Dr. Lawson Smith who was delivered from the demon of postnasal drip. But they, I'm not making that up. He is.
DEE DEE: Oh, and, I'm sorry.
JOHN: Yeah, but I was just going to say that, to me see, let me just give you a basic principle. Erroneous doctrine, weak theology misunderstanding of the Bible has no power to transform life, therefore, these kinds of people still struggle with those kind of things, because they do not properly understand that which can transform their life. You know what I'm saying by that? You get a person who's only relationship to Christianity is sort of emotional and whatever is rather typical of charismatic people and they do not have that which gives them the ability to understand the word of God and to restrain these things in themselves. So they're victims of those things because of the low level of biblical understanding and commitment that they have. They're committed to an experience and that's deadly because you can falsify that. You can't falsify this because it's explicit and subjective and it's clear. I think you have to deal with them lovingly, but ---
DEE DEE: You can't argue.
JOHN: No, but you can sure take them back to Romans 7 and tell them what it says there is you do those things it's sin in you and the Bible never says anything in the Bible about getting rid of a demon. You tell 'em, "Find me one place in the whole New Testament that says a Christian with a problem is to go get delivered from a demon."
DEE DEE: Such as illness?
JOHN: Yeah. Find me one single place in the New Testament where a Christian is ever told to go get delivered from a demon. There isn't one single solitary place.
DEE DEE: Okay. Thank you.
JOHN: So put the burden of proof on them. You know that's really, you can learn to do that. That's the key to dealing with people who have false assumptions about Scripture. Don't try to answer their questions. Put the burden on them. Ask them questions that they can't answer. Put the burden on them. How do you defend that Scripture? What verse is that based on? That's like the people who write me all the time and want to know if I, they want to say to me your basic problem is you've never been slain in the spirit. And so I write them back and say what verse is that in? What verse does that come from? Well there's no verse. What can you say? It's part of what is known as charismatic tradition and that is not biblical.
Well these are great times. I enjoy this. Let's stand for a word of prayer. Well Father, we are grateful tonight that we've been able to share around Your word. Father deal directly with some of the burdens on the hearts of the folks and we know that most of these questions come out of the real struggle in their hearts or lives, somebody that they're concerned about, or even their own needs, and so we pray, Lord, that You'll apply the word in the power of the Spirit to every life. Give us a great week as the kingdom advances and bring us together on Your special day to worship You with joyful hearts and we'll thank you in Christ's name. Amen.
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