JOHN: Tonight we’re going to let you ask some questions. So it’s your time and there’s a microphone over there and in the middle and over here and all you need to do is just stand behind a microphone and then I’ll just kind of pick you out and you can ask a question, whatever is on your heart. Make them as brief as you can. Can you do that? So that we can get as many people covered as possible and you can just kind of jump up and get in line and we’ll go as long as we have. And I hate like everything to leave anybody out, but it does happen. So we’ll do the best we can with folks that are there. Okay, we’ll start over here on my right. Give us your name first and that’ll help.
AUDIENCE: Okay, hi, John. My name is Tony Costanzo, and first of all, I just want to tell you I really thank you for the privilege we have had of sitting under your ministry of the past several years here at Grace. That’s really been a blessing to us.
JOHN: Thank you, Tony.
AUDIENCE: Two brief questions. One, in Matthew 12:31-32 it talks about the blasphemy of the Spirit, Holy Spirit. And in Hebrews 6:4-6 it talks about crucifying again the Son of God. And I was wondering if you could explain the differences and/or similarities in those passages?
JOHN: What he’s really asking is how does the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit in Matthew 12 – and we’ll get to that sometime after I get back from my vacation – in Matthew 12, how does it relate to Hebrews 6? Now we talked about Hebrews 6 a little bit last time where it says those who were once enlightened tasted the heavenly gift. Do you know that passage? Were made partakers of the Holy Spirit. If they’ve fallen away that it’s impossible to renew them again to repentance, seeing they crucify the Son of God and put him to an open shame.
Essentially those two passages are parallel, Tony, because what happened in 12 of Matthew is identical to what the writer of Hebrews is talking about. You see, the Pharisees, the reason they blasphemed the Holy Spirit was they had seen everything Jesus did. Right? All His miracles, all His works, they’d heard all His teaching, every possible exposure to Him had been given to them, and they rejected it. And they concluded that He’s of the Devil. And so He says, with all of that light and all of that information, you have concluded 180 degrees opposite the truth. And therefore, in a sense, it’s impossible for you to be renewed to repentance because when you had full light, you concluded the very opposite thing. So in Hebrews 6 he’s saying the same thing. Some of you who have had full exposure to the full light and turned your back on Christ at that point can never be renewed again to repentance because you rejected with the full information. All right.
AUDIENCE: My name is Dennis Palmer, and my brother and sister-in-law have just started attending a church where the pastor is an amillennialist and he also believes that he can lose your salvation. Should they feel comfortable and stay there or move on to a dispensational teaching church just a little bit further away?
JOHN: Well, yeah, you know, sure. I’d say go where the truth is taught. There’s no – you see we are responsible for what we know and we’re responsible to make the most out of our life. I don’t hesitate to tell people, you don’t have any obligation to sit in a church where you’re not learning the truth, where you’re being confused. You have responsibility before God to expose yourself to the truth, and so you better find the place where that’s being taught. Naturally, I think that position is not a biblical position, that you can lose your salvation, and that there’s no kingdom coming. And we’ve talked about that on other question and answer nights. You know, it’s like some guy was saying to me today. This guy said, “Well, I know our pastor doesn’t really teach the word, but I’ve been in this church for 35 years, and I’ll outlast him.” But that isn’t the way you look at the church. You’re not trying to outlast pastors. You’re trying to get somewhere where you can get built up in the faith. So I don’t hesitate to encourage people to make that kind of a transition. Gordon?
AUDIENCE: Okay, I’m Gordy Carlson and I’ve got a question here. I’ve been talking to several people and they’ve question me about reincarnation. And I’ve been trying to research and find some point where reincarnation got mixed in with the scriptural teachings of the Old Testament and all the other writings that have been around, like the Kabala and the Talmud and all this other extra-scriptural writings. Do they contain references to reincarnation that were eliminated?
JOHN: Yeah, basically the Kabala, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, all of those have reference to reincarnation. Now, all world religions stem from Babble. But for us it’s clear to understand, because when the people were scattered they were scattered from the Tower of Babble. But in a more contemporary mode, all the world religions basically have been born out of Hinduism, and Hinduism is built on a reincarnation system. And the whole idea is that you just keep reincarnating and reincarnating. That’s why they won’t kill cows and won’t step on bugs and won’t kill flies. And I pointed that out, remember, when we were doing the series on the disciples prayer about the food thing. The reason people in India are starving is not because there’s not enough food. Indira Gandhi herself says they could feed the nation three times over and export more than they eat. But 30 percent of it is eaten up by rats and mice, which they will not kill, because they don’t want to mess up somebody’s karma who’s living in the rat. So it is their pagan religion that binds them in this kind of thing.
But reincarnation answers the major problem that the pagan world faces. Romans 1 says in verse 18 the wrath of God is revealed. Right? And that is the heart and soul of the gospel, that God is going to poor out wrath on sinful man. Now how can man deny that. That’s his dilemma. He doesn’t want to accept God. He doesn’t want to accept the truth. He doesn’t want to accept the gospel, so somehow he’s got to replace this concept of judgement. The Bible says, Hebrews 9:22, “It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgement.” So the Bible denies reincarnation in that one verse. Now –
AUDIENCE: Is there –
JOHN: Let me just go a little step further. But at that point, the system of man says we deny judgement. In 2 Peter it says, “Where is the promise of His coming? All things continue as they were from the beginning,” so forth and so forth. They don’t want to admit judgement. Now the way they get out of judgement is by this constant cycle of reincarnation. You’re never judged; you just keep cycling through human existence again and again. There’s no consequences to what you do except a lowering or a raising of your karma in life. And it is a calculated design to evade the reality of judgement.
AUDIENCE: Is there any – has anybody done any research on how it got from eastern religions into Judaism and Christianity?
JOHN: Well, there really is no reincarnation in true Judaism, and there’s no reincarnation in Christianity.
AUDIENCE: None of the Old Testament writings that were around at the same time had reincarnation in them?
JOHN: Well, sure, reincarnation has been around for a long time, but the Bible never picks it up. In fact, the Bible doesn’t even comment on it. I mean if you’re looking for a verse, it doesn’t even comment. I have a friend named John Weldon who’s done a lot of research on reincarnation. He has a new book out on the occult. You might check in there, there might be a section on it. Also International Standard Bible Encyclopedia or Zondervan’s Encyclopedia or Baker’s Dictionary of Theology might have a section on reincarnation and give you some historical background.
AUDIENCE: Okay, thank you.
AUDIENCE: John, my name is Philip. I was talking to a friend today and his church up in Oxnard is having a little controversy within the congregation about faith. And apparently some people are getting involved in a very charismatic type of thinking. Specifically I guess it comes from Ken Copeland, and he’s talking about – well, it’s kind of like “let God - let go” thinking and human responsibility has little to do to exercise your faith. You just trust God. Now I explained to him to look at what biblical faith was in Hebrews chapter 11 and the fact that the patriarchs, for example, did things. Their faith changed their behavior. I was wondering what you might suggest to tell him to help him along?
JOHN: The reason, basically, that people get involved in that Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Frederick Price and a lot of other lesser-light stuff, the reason people get involved in that is because they do not understand the nature of God. And God for them is nothing more than a utilitarian genie. You rub the bottle, He jumps out and does what you demand. It is a man-centered theology. It is based on health, wealth, and happiness. And I can say it to you simply this way. Those guys say you can – they call it affirmation faith. They use a lot of different terms, but every increasing faith, affirmation faith. And you know, they’re like the clock that doesn’t run. They’re right twice a day, and that’s what confuses people. See, I mean, they intersect with the truth a couple times and so people – and they’re clever. But basically what they’re saying is you can demand healing. I mean, Hagin and Copeland say they’ve never been sick. Never been sick. But they’re going to die. But they’re never sick, they never have problems, they’re always successful, they have always enough money and so forth. That’s what they’re promising.
I would just say that the problem basically is they have a man-centered theology. You get into it for what you can get out of it. You demand healing, you demand prosperity, you demand a new job, you demand a new car, and they call it faith. And it isn’t faith at all. It is indulgence under the guise of faith. They just absolutely murder the scripture by misinterpretation. They just adulterate it all over the place, twisting it to make their own goals. There’s always sort of a major ego thing that you see just as big as a spotlight in the middle of the whole deal.
Just another step I would add. Any system that comes along and promised health and prosperity and all of that stuff is the utter antithesis to what the gospel offers men. Jesus said if you’re not willing to take up the cross and follow Me, you’re not worthy to be My disciple. Jesus said to the young guy who came along and said I got to go home and bury my father, which means collect my inheritance, forget it. Another guy came along and said, “I’ll follow you wherever you go.” He said, “The foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nest, the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head,” and the guy split. In other words, he said I don’t want you on the terms that you’re looking for comfort. I want you on the terms that you’re going to abandon comfort. But these guys are coming around, and the very things that Jesus rejected in followers, they’re giving to followers and saying this is the gospel, and it is the very opposite gospel to what Jesus offered.
You see, they don’t understand the character and nature of God. He is holy, He is sovereign, He is Lord. They have made man the lord who will tell God what to do. And I think, as I’ve said before, that is one of the most insidious things happening in America today, because it sounds so good and they’re so flowery and warm. And they’re almost like – Copeland’s almost like a standup comic. He’s funny. He’s really funny. And he sort of draws people in with his humor. And Fred Price is a clever speaker.
You know, I’m more and more convinced, and that’s why I don’t hesitate to talk about these things, that I am called by God to preserve the sacredness of sound doctrine. Just for an illustration of that – be with you in a minute, Pam – I got to preach here a minute. But in 1 Timothy, just to give you the perspective – and when I get done with Romans or Matthew, I’m going to teach in 1 Timothy. But it says, if a man desires the office of a bishop or an elder or a pastor, he desires a good work. All right? Then it gives all the qualifications – 1 Timothy 3 – he has to be a one-woman man, blameless; he has to be temperate, sober minded; and it gives all these things, and they’re all one phrase – blip, blip, blip, blip, blip – that all there is to it.
And all of a sudden, it comes down to the fact that he must have – let’s see if I can find the exact verse. Well, it goes all the way through the deacons and all the way down to the end of the chapter and then into chapter 4. It talks about the deacon and the deacon’s wife and so forth and so on and then you come to chapter 4 and the Spirit speaks expressly, and in the later times come false doctrines and so forth and so forth. Then you come to verse 6 of chapter 4, “If you put the brethren in remembrance of these things, you’ll be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and sound doctrine.” Then he goes on, “Refuse profane and old wives’ fables,” and he goes on to say, “These things command and teach” – read the text – verse 13, exhort and teach doctrine and don’t neglect the gift; verse 16, take heed unto the doctrine. In other words, you’ve got all these little short deals, and then when he gets into doctrine, he goes on for half a chapter, because that is the major ministry of an elder or a pastor, is to keep the church from error.
Now if you back up into 1 Timothy, I’ll show you the same thing. 1 Timothy chapter 1, in verse 18 he says, “This charge” – or this body of truth – “I commit unto you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which pointed to thee that thou by them mightest war a good warfare.” In other words, you’re a soldier Timothy, by virtue of the declaration of the elders who affirmed your calling and you are to hold the faith with a good conscience and not be like those who put away the faith and made a shipwreck like Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. In other words, you make sure you hold the faith and you make sure you keep a pure life and don’t fall by the wayside as those who have literally made shipwreck. And what it means, these false teachers had a boatload of people and they wrecked them on the shoals of false doctrine and the people are floundering in the water. So that the primary responsibility of the servant of God is to keep sound doctrine before the people. And one of the things you have to do to do that, in Acts 20, is to warn people about false teachers. And so I don’t hesitate to do that, because I think those things are so insidious.
Look, Christians across this country are literally confused beyond hope. You know, you’re fortunate. You’re in a church where there is a firm commitment to sound teaching and it’s consistent and it’s systematic and you can depend on it and you can learn from it. Most people sit in a church, they don’t even know what sound doctrine is. There are a lot of places where I can go and go in and speak and give a message and it goes right on by people like I was talking another language, because they don’t even have ears to hear, let alone understanding. So it’s critical that we warn the people. It’s amazing to me how many people support these ministries thinking they’re really supporting something the Lord is in and it’s just chaotic.
AUDIENCE: Okay, I have a question about Probers 25:2. The first part –
JOHN: Proverbs 25:2?
JOHN: Is this some question a radio listener wrote in?
AUDIENCE: I’m confused about the first part of the verse. It talks about it is the glory of God to conceal a matter.
JOHN: Basically, the glory of God is His nature, right, His attributes, His character, His person, all that He is. And one of the aspects, one of the elements of the nature of God is that he does not reveal everything. Deuteronomy 29:29 says the secret things belong to the Lord. It is the very nature of God to conceal certain things. It is the glory of God to hide things from us. And particularly in the Old Testament, isn’t that true? The whole mystery of the new covenant, the new testament, was hidden from ages past and is now revealed. So it is in the nature of God to conceal things. I’ll put it another way. The supreme revelation of the nature of God is that He has concealed things. Do you know what I mean by that?
AUDIENCE: Go on.
JOHN: If we could understand everything in the mind of God, then God would be at our level. Right? So the fact that God has concealed from us those things that are beyond us is His supreme glory. That is what sets Him beyond us. Do you understand that? The difference between you as an adult and your little baby is that in maturity, you have a perception level and an intellect that is way beyond that perception of that child. So your very glory over your little infant child is that you can know so much more, and that is God’s. Whereas the honor of a king is not that he is able to know more than other men, but that he is better able to search out wisdom than other men. That’s how he rises to the place of leadership. So it’s a contrast. The best of men, the greatest leaders of men are the wisest who can seek the truth. But God in His greatest glory is One whose truth is so far beyond us it is not even searchable.
AUDIENCE: Okay, thanks.
AUDIENCE: Hello, John. I’m Bob Abrams.
JOHN: Hi, Bob.
AUDIENCE: My Jewish background kind of prompts this question. In the first chapter of – in 1 Corinthians the 11th chapter, starting from verse 3 on to about 16, we talk about a man not covering his head in church and a woman covering her head. Now I don't know whether this is Jewish tradition. In the context it just doesn’t appear that that is the case here. I just –
JOHN: No. It’s not Jewish tradition, Bob, because it’s the context of a Gentile church congregation. It’s more likely a Gentile context. This is an interesting passage and people always ask questions about this passage. I suppose that I have recommended the tape on this passage more times than any tape I can think of, because everyone asks about it. Basically verse 3 gives a principle – I can’t remember everything I said in that – but verse 3 gives a principle that the head of every man is Christ and the head of woman is the man and the head of Christ is God. Now that is the principle. Paul wants the Corinthians to learn that Christ is the head of the church and the man is the head of the woman, so there is a chain of command there.
Now, this should be demonstrated in the church, that man is head over woman. “Every man praying or prophesying having his head covered dishonors his head,” because covering is a sign of what? Of what? Humility, meekness. You know, I mean, you go into the east today and women have a bunch of stuff over their face and veils and they run around in Arab countries and they’ve got veils and things down their head and down the back and all. So in this culture it was so, that a woman had a demonstrable sign of submission. Now if a man stood up with a veil on, I mean, you know, he would be denying his God-ordained role as a head, because within that framework of society, he should demonstrate that. And every woman that comes up and tooks off her veil is a liber. See, I mean, she’s going to play the man’s role; she’s going to do her thing, and then it flows, the rest of the text, that way.
And he argues from the standpoint of the culture, and he even argues from the standpoint of nature. Verse 14, “doesn’t even nature itself teach you that if a man have long hair, it’s a shame unto him.” Now don’t get all upset. People say, “Oh, you see, that proves it, that men should never have long hair.” That’s relative. If a woman has her hair to the back of her knees, like some did in those days, and a man had his to his shoulders, that’s not long hair. Jesus may have had it to his shoulders. In fact the only description we have of him indicates he had it to his shoulders. But the point is this, and I’ve checked this out several times, that a woman’s hair tends to grow faster than a man’s hair. So that God has designed that a woman’s hair would be longer than a man’s by the very nature of that growth pattern. So you have both the culture and the creation to demonstrate that a woman is to manifest the role of meekness or humility, which is the role of submission. That’s essentially what the passage is saying.
AUDIENCE: John, since Jesus was a rabbi, was there not a custom where rabbis would have their hair exceedingly short if not very little hair at times?
JOHN: Well, that’s hard to know. Exceedingly short. I mean, how often did they get a haircut. My hair is right where I want it the day I get it cut. Two weeks later and a months later it’s like this, but I don’t have time to go down there and get it cut again. So that’s hard to know. But I don’t think that the whole idea of the text is that women are to have hair down the middle of their back and men are to have hair above their ears with a white line across their ear. I think that what it’s saying is that women ought to demonstrate their meekness as the culture indicates, because God has so ordained their very creation. And men ought to demonstrate their headship as the culture indicates.
I have some problems with a lot of the unisex kind of things where that is being mixed up. I mean, I see women on television and I have to look a couple times to see if they’re women. It bothers me to get on – is it American Airlines and go across the country and all the women have vested suits with collars and ties. This is the uniform. That as you say, well, you’re being picky. Sure, but that’s what a man normally wears. Why doesn’t she look like a woman looks. And then the other night I saw some lady on there who was acting silly, banging a drum for one of these things, and she was dressed – she absolutely no demonstration of submissiveness or meekness or femininity or grace – whatever.
I don’t think women are inferior. I mean, my goodness, I think if anything they’re superior. I married one. What can I say. I mean, it’s obvious. There’s nothing like a woman. What is she inferior to? You can’t compare a woman to a man, because a woman is a woman is a woman. And there’s nothing to compare her to. So the idea that we’re chauvinistic is silly. I remember when the newsreel people came out here and they kept asking the women of our church in the patio, “Why do you go to this chauvinistic place?” And they would give these basic, “Well, we believe the Bible,” and one of the reporters said, “And they seemed like normal women.” That’s what they said. They seemed like normal women. They expected a bunch of doughty people with buns on the top of their hair going around with whip marks on the back of their neck. You know? All we’re trying to do is preserve the thing the way God designed it and there’s nothing like a woman. She is supreme in the place that God has her. Even in Paul’s time they had a women’s lib movement and women were going around bare breasted, wearing armor, and carrying swords. They’ve always fought against that. That’s because of Genesis chapter 3. They’ve always fought for supremacy. Okay, on my right over here.
AUDIENCE: Hi, John. My name is Michael Sacks, and I have a – can I ask two questions?
JOHN: Sure. Why don’t you turn that mic up? Just pull it up a little. Everybody’s bending over. That’s good. Thank you, Mike.
AUDIENCE: It’s all right now. Thank you. Okay, the first one is in Mark 1:5.
JOHN: Mark 1:5.
AUDIENCE: And it’s where John the Baptist was baptizing the people in the Jordan River. I was wondering, before Christ’s death, how would they relate to baptism, and did the Jews have a baptism in their rituals at that time?
JOHN: Yeah, there are several baptisms in the scripture that are of importance: there is the baptism of John; there is the baptism of John baptizing Jesus; and there is the baptism in the name of Christ in the church after His death and resurrection. They are distinct. The baptism – the Christian baptism is an identification with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The baptism of John was Jewish washing. Throughout the Jewish history it had been traditional for Jews to demonstrate outwardly an inward repentance, and they would do that through washing ceremonies. And what was happening was John was preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and that was a very clear message. The Messiah is coming. And the people who accepted that message and desired to repent came to John, repented, and demonstrated their repentance in the baptism. They were a people being made ready for the coming of the Messiah. So it was a Jewish washing as they were preparing themselves internally in their heart and demonstrating it externally in their baptism for the arrival of Messiah. It was a baptism of repentance. So it was a Jewish baptism, that’s correct.
Now the baptism of Jesus by John, Jesus didn’t need to repent. Right? So why was He baptized? He was baptized, I believe, to identify Himself with that repentant remnant. And then Christian baptism is unique unto itself.
AUDIENCE: Thank you. The second question is – Matthew 12:27.
JOHN: We’re back there again. All right.
AUDIENCE: And he says – they were accusing Him, like you said, of having the power of Satan. And he says, “If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your son’s cast them out? Consequently they shall be your judges.” I was wondering about how they shall be the judges.
JOHN: Well, what He’s basically saying, there were Jewish exorcists who went around supposedly casting out demons. And what Jesus I think is saying here is why do you accuse Me of casting demons out by Beelzebub, which means the Lord of the Flies or the Lord of Dung or the Lord of the Dwelling Place, one of those three things. It has to do with Satan. And the root may be even in Baal. Why do you accuse Me of Satanic casting out? If I cast demons out by Satan, who do your exorcists cast them out by? And the implication is, I am a perfect person. You have found no flaw in Me. You have seen no sin in Me. You have heard no word other than truth from Me, and you know these men of your own kind are not like that. And if I as a perfect person and as an absolutely holy person am doing this by Satan, who are your unholy people doing it by? In other words, if I’m not doing it by God, who are they doing it by? And the implication then is that those people are going to be judged. If they’re going to so judge me, then those people are going to have to be judged as well.
AUDIENCE: But I don’t understand how the sons are going to be the judges.
JOHN: How what?
AUDIENCE: He says, “By whom do your sons cast them out,” and He says, “They shall be your judges.” I don’t understand that.
JOHN: Well, in a sense the sons then become the standard. They are the ones that are going to render judgement. In other words, in order to make judgement on the case all you have to do is look at them and they become your judges. I mean, they show how stupid this is. They condemn you themselves, because in their sinfulness they’re doing this. In my holiness, I am doing this. You’re accusing Me of doing it by the power of Satan. What must they be doing it by. They themselves are judging your stupidity. Okay?
AUDIENCE: Okay, thank you.
AUDIENCE: My name is Rose Falcon. This is my first visit here at your church.
JOHN: Well, hi, Rose.
AUDIENCE: But I’ve been listening to your radio program.
AUDIENCE: And I have a lot of questions, and this one may be simple, but is it necessary to be baptized as an adult if you were baptized as a baby?
JOHN: I think so. Sure. I think the Bible says in Acts 2:38, “Repent and be baptized.” And so that baptism follows repentance. And you can’t have conscience repentance unless you’re old enough to make that commitment to Christ and then it should be followed by baptism. You have the illustration of Philip and the eunuch and the eunuch goes along and he teaches him Isaiah and he teaches him about Christ and as soon as he responds to Christ he says, “What does hinder me from being baptized?” Instantly he knew he should be baptized. On the day of Pentecost 3,000 people believed and were baptized. So I think that – infant baptism doesn’t mean anything. You can’t find it in the scripture. It is a tradition that’s sort of been in the church.
Some of you were baptized as infants, as Catholics, were you not? I was. Did you know that? I was born in – where was I born? I was born in – St. Vincent’s Hospital and they did their thing to me when I was little. That’s silly to assume that there’s any efficacy in that. Some of you were baptized as children in the Presbyterian church or an Episcopalian church or Lutheran church or I don't know some other church maybe that did that. But basically the New Testament teaches that baptism follows conscious repentance. So I believe that if you’ve committed yourself to Christ in your adult life, you should be baptized.
AUDIENCE: And I have another question about –
JOHN: And we’re having a baptism next Wednesday night.
AUDIENCE: My other question is about – say I have older relatives that were illiterate and were raised in a church where they didn’t really encourage people to read the Bible. It’s just what they said – the gospel that they may read for about 15 minutes. And if they were illiterate and they just followed the teachings of the church they went to, is it possible for them to be saved?
JOHN: I think there is no salvation in any other name than in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And they’ve got to come to know the Lord Jesus Christ, and that’s our responsibility. You know, when Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature,” that was based on the assumption that every creature would be lost if they didn’t hear the gospel. Otherwise, that command is meaningless. In other words, if people could be saved without hearing the gospel, then the best thing to do is not tell them, because then they don’t have the choice. Do you understand what I’m saying? So no, I think that even in a situation where you have a pagan person, I believe if they live up to the light that God gives them and they desire to know the truth, that God will bring into their life the truth of Christ. Now maybe in that church the truth of Christ came through. I don't know. But they would have to believe, I think, in the Lord Jesus Christ. In Acts 14, Paul says, “And the time of this ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent.” Because he has sent Christ to judge the world.
AUDIENCE: Well, if they believe that being baptized as a baby and making the first communion and going to confession and receiving communion is receiving Christ and they believe this, but they were illiterate and they lived out – like away from a large town or something –?
JOHN: Only the Lord knows the answer to that. Because if they were trusting in their baptism for salvation, if they were trusting in their communion for salvation, if they were trusting in the church for salvation, there’s no salvation there. But if through that, they saw that Christ was salvation, then they are saved. But only God knows that perhaps.
AUDIENCE: Okay, thank you.
JOHN: Thank you for those questions. And that’s a hard one isn’t it? Everybody has that problem. We all have relatives that we would deeply want to believe are with the Lord in heaven and not in eternal hell. But we cannot alter the doctrines of the Word of God to accommodate our feeling. And that is why, and I said this on Sunday night, doctrines like soul sleep and universalism, which says everybody ultimately gets saved, are so popular, because they appeal to the emotions. But we can’t build our theology on emotion, and if you understand the significant of Romans 1 you know that if any man goes into eternity without Christ, he is without – what? – he is without excuse, because he had that opportunity. And that is why that’s such an important section of scripture. Let’s see. We’ll go back over here then.
AUDIENCE: My name is Tim Carter. My question is, is there a place in the ministry to the flock for husbands who are godly though separated from their wives? They are seeking reconciliation. Everything is really up and up and they’re doing everything they can. There is no – through no issue of their own, they are separated, and the same for the wife who might be in that situation?
JOHN: Tim, there is always a ministry for a righteous man. Always. Through the spiritual gifts God’s given you. I just think that there is a visibility factor involved and exemplary factor that limits some of that ministry. I mean obviously, if my wife left me, my credibility would be shot no matter how innocent I might be, and people would be – they couldn’t hear me preach because they’d be wondering what I was really like. Why did she leave me? What quirks in my – by the way, she’s not going to leave me. But I’m just saying, you can understand how that would – you know, if I came and announced some Sunday morning that my wife had left me, it would totally change my entire ministry. Everybody would just – all the thoughts and all the problems would arise and so forth and so – and it doesn’t mean that there aren’t problems when you stay married, because some people hide those kind of problems too.
But basically if you’re a righteous man and a godly man, you are a channel through which the Spirit of God will operate and He’ll operate through your spiritual gifts and He’ll use you in the body of Christ. But obviously you’re in a situation where you can’t rise to a position of exemplary leadership because of the tension in your own life, and because you make yourself vulnerable for criticism. And the body, I think, wants to protect you. In other words, it’s like a wound that comes to the physical body. The rest of the body moves to that area, doesn’t it, to fight that infection. And in a real sense, the body wants to protect you, not stick you in a position to be more vulnerable.
AUDIENCE: I can say that I went through the situation and last Friday the divorce was final. My life has be pure toward my life, and that I knew that through that situation the best times were when I was helping others.
JOHN: Yeah, and you keep doing it.
AUDIENCE: When I was taken from my – when my ministry, singing for children on Sunday mornings, and in that time it was really dry, as dry as my throat right now.
JOHN: The Lord is in the business of restoration and if you’re the innocent party, the Lord will restore you and use you. It’s just that I think there has to be a time when you build back the integrity and credibility that people have to have to trust your ministry. But I think you can work on an individual basis until God restores that in your life. Sure. I mean, all of us are restored sinners. Right? Somewhere along the line, if the truth were known, we’ve all come back from something or are in the process of coming back.
AUDIENCE: But as far as evangelism, I could go out to like USC Hospital and do that? I mean, a person in that situation could, and they wouldn’t know who they were anyway. And they’d be telling them the truth, the gospel, and there’d be nothing wrong with that. He could go as far as he could with that, right?
JOHN: You know, the Bible doesn’t say go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature unless you got sin in your life. It just says go. And if you’re dealing with that in a righteous life – I don’t think God’s pulling the blinds on you, saying that’s it for you forever.
AUDIENCE: Well, until it’s taken care of or something.
JOHN: I mean, he took care of David, and after all of the problems that he had, He still used him and called him His personal friend. So I think there is still things – although I think that in terms of the far reaching and the highest levels of visibility there are problems, because of your vulnerability at that point. And the body wants to protect you from that, but not in the elimination of your ministry.
AUDIENCE: Thank you.
AUDIENCE: Of course, my name’s Ken Sobiack, and the question that I have has to do with John chapter 14 verse 2 where he’s talking about – in the New American Standard He’s talking about, “In my Father’s house are many dwelling places.” In the King James Version it says mansions. And I was just wondering, is it mansions or dwelling places.
JOHN: Well, it’s dwelling places, but I’ll promise you this, they’re going to be a whole lot like mansions. The actual Greek word is dwelling place, and even go further than that. The real Greek word is room. How could you say, “In my Father’s house are many mansions?” You ever seen a house with a bunch of mansions in it? Well, how could you say – you could say, “In my Father’s house are many dwelling places,” but that doesn’t even make sense. What the Greek says is, “In My Father’s house there are many rooms.” When I was a little kid I used to imagine heaven as a big, big place, sort of like London. Because somebody told me basically the square – 15 by 15 by 15, you know, 1,500 cubits by 1,500 cubits by 1,500 cubits is supposed to be the city of – the eternal city, heaven’s city, the new Jerusalem. And if you figure 1,500 cubed, it’s so huge that it would be the square area of London only cubed, which is just tremendously – you could hold everybody who ever lived in the world and still have room. And so I imagined heaven as this big place and all these gold roads and everywhere and we’d be eight blocks down and sixteen blocks to the left and there would be our big mansion and somebody would be down the street and all of this. And that’s the way I grew up thinking. Then when I got into studying that text when I went through John’s gospel, it became apparent that what it’s saying is in my father’s house there are many rooms. I’m not going to be eighteen blocks down and sixteen to the left. I’m going to be in the Father’s house. We’re not going to be separated; we’re going to be together. And that’s the essence of it. In my Father’s house are many rooms. You’re not going to be just in the same city; you’re going to be in the same house.
AUDIENCE: Thank you.
AUDIENCE: Yeah, John, I’m Roger. And I’d like to first of all make a comment about the ministry of this church that I have thoroughly enjoyed. I have three children, ages eight down to five, and the education that they have gotten scripturally in this church I wish I had gotten when I was a kid. I was raised in a liberal Presbyterian church and when I was baptized as a child, the pastor said, “I’m going to ask you certain questions. You’re to say yes to each of these questions.” And after I got saved he wanted to know what was happening, because I’d already told him yes to all of those same questions that I had said yes to when I accepted Christ as my Savior. And it’s a real thrill to see kids who are really learning the truth of the Word of God.
JOHN: Amen, thank you.
AUDIENCE: Now, I have a question that might be a little complicated to answer and I’m having trouble to answer it myself. I have a next door neighbor who has a guy that’s been coming over and working on his cars with him. And the guy is a real weirdo. I mean he is about as far out in left field as you can possibly get without getting back into right field.
JOHN: We used to say, he’s so far into left field he’s in the bull pen. Go ahead.
AUDIENCE: The problem is that the guy has the idea that he is god, which we obviously know is false. My question is –
JOHN: I think we can get agreement on that.
AUDIENCE: Is there a procedure that you would recommend in – for me, for my family – in either trying to witness to this guy or would you recommend complete severance of any contact with him?JOHN: Well, I would say from your stand point, you’re well enough trained to be able to do it. The only thing I know to do with that – and you know, you get all kinds of people like that. And it’s amazing to me that people who have mental problems somehow get God in the midst of their mental problems, even if they’re not very religious people, which shows that sort of residual knowledge of God that they know that they’ve rejected, and the guilt and the sin of their life that they’ve never dealt with has piled up this guilt complex that makes them act aberrational. I really believe that most people act weird so that you’ll think they’re nuts, because they want to explain away their behavior as mental derangement rather than sinful. And the best way to deal with those people is to confront them.
Now I had a guy who came up to me two Sundays ago, and he says to me, here, “Hi, I missed seeing you.” And I said, “Oh, I missed seeing you too. You haven’t been here in a while.” “No, I’ve been in jail.” I said, “What have you been doing in jail?” He says, “I tried to kill myself, so they put me in the jail to protect me.” I said, “Well, why did you do that?” He said, “I just wanted to die.” I said, “Well, how did you try to kill yourself?” He said, “Well, I jumped in front of three cars. One for the Father, one for the Son, and one for the Holy Ghost.” Right? So I said, “That is ridiculous.” And he said, “By the way, here’s my registration card. I put my other name on the other card, but I want to give you – this is my other name. I have two names.” I said, “You don’t have two names.” And I said, “I know your name. Your name is so-and-so and those cars are not the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And there’s no sense in you committing suicide and you better get your life” – and I just nailed it as hard as I could straight forward. That’s the only thing I know to do. I can’t just stand there and say, “Oh, well, that’s wonderful. I get spaced out too.” I don't know how to handle that kind of a thing except to say, “Don’t play that game with me.”
And if I come across a person who thinks they’re god – and there have been people like that. I mean Charles Manson thought he was Jesus Christ and sometimes he thought he was Satan, so the only thing you can do is say, “Stop that foolishness.” But sometimes they’re so blown on drugs, they’re so far out on their mental trip that they can’t come back to reality. But the only thing you can do is give it a shot. And sometimes if you’ll just confront them and say, “You’re not God. That is not true. That’s a lie. You know who you are. And if you’re going to get anything going together in your life, you better face who you are.” We had a situation here where a guy was in and out of the mental deal and one day one of our counselors said to him, “You know, I’m so tired of this thing. What game are you playing?” And they guy said, “Oh, you found me out,” and explained the whole thing and why he did it. So the only thing that I know to do with people like that is to confront those people. You know, sometimes people will even threaten my life and do things like that, and the only thing I know to do when I see those people is to tell them, “Look, stay away.” Be firm with those people. Loving but firm way.
AUDIENCE: Right. Well, this is the thing I’ve been concerned about, because he has tried to confuse my children, and I’ve instructed my children to stay away from him.
JOHN: Yeah, that’s the right thing to do. Don’t expose your children to him.
AUDIENCE: And I appreciate one thing, as I said, I love the ministry and the way the kids have been taught here. The other day he came over and I wasn’t there, and he began to spout at my wife and tell my wife that he was God. And my little eight-year-old Ruthie, looked up and she said, “You’re not God. Jesus is.”
JOHN: Amen. Amen. Right on target. Yeah, we have a guy who comes here dressed like a lady all the time and wants to be counseled. What do you tell the guy? I baptized a woman one night – she came in from the lady’s side – I found out later it was a man. I baptized it or him – it was a him, and he said he’s had surgery. I said, I don't care if you’ve had surgery. You were made a man, you’re still a man.” “Well,” he said, “I’m going to live as a woman.” And I said, “Leave this church. God made you a man. If you have to go through life as a castrated man, you’re a man. You’re not a woman.” “But I was a woman in a man’s body.” I said, “You are a man, and whatever you did to yourself, you’re a man.”
When he came in to be baptized and I hadn’t talked to him, and he went up and said, “My name is Alice.” That was the end for me. I thought whoa, whoa. That’s really true, isn’t it. Some of you guys remember that. And I was dumbfounded. “I came to the Lord,” and I was just dying back there. But later I found out what was going on. You know, those things happen in a church. I think you just have to confront that kind of thing. It’s a hard problem though. Bless their hearts. Your heart reaches out to them. You love them.
You know, the first day I was ever at Grace Church, this was the first day I ever got here, my first day as a pastor, right, I’m sitting in the office over there, and I’m asking the Lord – and all of a sudden – to help me get started – there’s a knock on the door, and this guy walks in all in white. My first day. He’s all in white, everything, white shirt, white pants, white shoes, white coat, white everything. And you know that’s a dead giveaway that the guys got sin in his life when he’s trying to look pure. He’s playing a game with his mind. That’s right. So he comes in, he walks over with his wallet, and he goes – like this – FBI. He didn’t even knock. He just walked right in. I’m sitting there studying and he comes in, “FBI.” And I looked up and I thought, what is going on? Am I under arrest? And he looked around the room and he said, “Is this room bugged?” I said, “I just got here, man, you’ll have to tell me. I don’t know.”
And he flips out that thing again and shuts it real fast. I don't even know what was in his wallet. It was a game he was playing and then he says, “If you’ve got a minute I’ll show you the map.” And so he reaches in his pocket and he pulls out a map. And he says, “You see they’re over here and we’re over here,” and I don't even know what’s going on. I don't know. I don’t know if this guy’s the chairman of the elders. I don't know what he is. Well, we tried every way we could to love him and to care for him and we believe he committed his life to Christ. He was a brilliant guy, graduated from UCLA, and time went on.
But that was my first introduction the pastorate, and all through my years here, there have been those kinds of people in my life. Always. And you work hard, and that young man took his own life, but that’s something you just have to struggle with. And those people are around. How to deal with them? I’m sometimes at the end of my rope when trying, but God gives us grace, and if we extend love to those people but firm love – firm, we need to affirm to them the truth about themselves even though they deny it. Okay, quickly, we have time, and we’ll just take these and then we’ll be done.
AUDIENCE: I’m Michael _____, and the last few days I’ve been in Northrop – working for Northrop Aviation, just got a job down there. And I joined the credit union. They were trying to get me to have my check deposited directly. And I’ve always been under the impression that that is a form of the coming anti-Christ, in preparation for it.
JOHN: Well, I wouldn’t say that the credit union – Northrop is really a form of the anti-Christ.
AUDIENCE: No, I mean the direct –
JOHN: What are you going to live on if you give them all your check? Oh, you mean they want to draw it out automatically, a certain amount every month.
AUDIENCE: Yes. Yeah, a certain amount.
JOHN: Oh, that’s no problem. I think that’s just – if you force yourself to save that way, that’s not a problem.
AUDIENCE: And then the other one too is, this morning on my way to work, I was listening to this KPRZ youth show at 5:30, and they were talking about this past year, the Internal Revenue Service has mailed out some checks on accident that said on the back do not cash this money to the person unless they have a card with a specific code. And they called the Internal Revenue Service, and they said, “Oops, we weren’t supposed to mail those out until ’84.”
JOHN: Yeah, that’s really not true. The IRS has squelched that rumor a half a dozen times. Nobody knows where that came from, but the IRS denies ever doing that. And they can never – no one can ever bring up one of those and demonstrate that it did happen. So at this point I would say it’s probably not true.
AUDIENCE: Thank you.
AUDIENCE: Hi, John. My name is Dave. I took a Bible course a couple years ago where the teacher said that because God is sovereign and He chooses certain people to come to Him in salvation, and two because the Bible doesn’t say anything to the contrary, that it’s basically unbiblical to pray for the salvation of a non-believer. I’d like to hear what you have to say about that and straighten me out.
JOHN: Well, I just think that’s silly. You know, it’s never unbiblical to pray, and praying for the salvation of an unbeliever is pretty standard fair. Jesus asked his disciples to pray that the Lord would send forth laborers into the harvest, and that is an assumption that He was praying that someone would go and tell those people about Christ. Paul over and over and over prayed for the church and certainly prayed for their growth and their building up and implied in that is there evangelism. There is no commandment specifically in the New Testament that says to pray for the unsaved. But there’s no commandment in the New Testament that says pray for your mother-in-law either. I mean there are some things that are obvious. I’m not picking out mother-in-laws as the most obvious of all to pray for, but all I’m saying is that there are a lot of things that aren’t touched.
We go to God in a very normal way about every need and about everything. You should read this book called Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. It’s a paperback by J. I. Packer in which he shows how that the sovereignty of God and His elective purpose does not eliminate prayer for the unsaved. Just to give in an illustration the Spirit of God is operative in your life. When you want someone to come to Christ, what is the first thing you do? You pray for them. And that’s the prompting of the Spirit of God in your heart. And God not only chooses them, but He chooses the process by which that comes about, and that is through human instrumentation in prayer and in witnessing. If we don’t need to pray, then we don’t need to witness either. We don’t need to do anything. We’ll just let God come down and do His number on them. Okay? Back over here and we’ll finish up.
AUDIENCE: What do you believe in how people die and then they come back to life? What do you think of that?
JOHN: What do I think about people dying and coming back to life?
AUDIENCE: Yeah, saying – saying that they –
JOHN: Yeah, I think they didn’t die. Hebrews 9:22, “It is appointed unto man once to die,” and after that you don’t come back – it’s judgement. There have been few exceptions in history, and those are indicated to us in the scripture. I was on a debate on CBS some years ago with a London psychiatrist, a medical doctor, and a weird guy who came back from the dead who was just really a far out guy. And a lot of people are doing that now. That’s the new thing. In fact I wrote in my charismatic book, Dr. _____ who died and went to heaven and came back, in order to balance it off, he said that when he went to heaven and came back, heaven was so wonderful he lost all fear of hell, and since he’s Armenian and believes you can lose your salvation, God had to send him to hell to put the fear back in him so he’d stay saved. So he had a second deal, he died and went to hell and came back.
It’s like flying saucers. If one guy says he died and went to heaven and came back, then everybody who goes into some kind of an operation and wants to get on some kind of a deal and talk about it or write a book says they died and came back. They all talk about this flashing light. This London doctor who was a very, very brilliant guy said that that can be explained as some of the reaction, some of the nerve reaction in the brain that causes a sparking. There’s also the – there may be also that very satanic involvement, where when a person goes into that, they always come back feeling that everything was peaceful and everything was good and everything was fine, and that’s exactly what the Devil would like people to believe and would like people to propagate, right, that everything is fine. I don’t think they died.
And if you want to get technical about it, this doctor said there is no case on record ever of someone dying, that he knew of, and coming back. They may lapse into something where they have a flat EKG, that is an electrocardiogram, but what they’re starting to do now, I think, and I was just reading this the other day, is that they’re defining death – and this came out of Houston recently – they’re defining death as the absence of a brainwave movement. In other words, electroencephalogram. When you have a flat brainwave deal, you don’t come back. You can come back from a heart that stops, but most of these people don’t even get to that level. They just go into surgery and so froth and by having so much exposure to out-of-body talk and all of this, they sort of dream that those things are happening and things like that. I think it’s fantasy and it’s prompted by the desire to – it’s just little green men. Thousands of people have talked to little green men and told us about it. Okay?
Well, thank you. Those are good questions. Great. Let’s have a word of prayer.
Father thank You for our fellowship tonight. It was so good to be together, so important to sing Your praise together and to share. Thank You for the honesty of some of these folks who shared. We think of Tim who shared about the divorce being final on Friday and what a heartache and a deep pain that is, and how he fears that he would lose his ministry. And Lord we pray that as you rebuild and restore, as You always do, that You’ll give him a greater ministry because of this, as he has found a righteousness in his life and seeks to please You, we pray Lord that You’ll use him in ways that he never could have been used if he hadn’t have gone through this painful, painful time. And we pray too for all the rest who have questions related to anxieties and burdens and people they’re talking to, help us all, Lord, to seek answers out of Your Word, and to give an answer to every man that asks of the hope that is within us with meekness and fear. We thank You for what You’ll do in and through us for the Lord’s sake. Amen.
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