JOHN: Well, we want to have a little bit of time in the Word tonight, and we cherish these times. They’re such great times. So if you have a question, pop right up to a microphone there and we’ll do the best we can to answer your – boy oh boy. Wow, this is a loaded deck tonight. Here we go.
AUDIENCE: Hi, my name’s Kelly and –
JOHN: Wait a second. We don’t have that mic on. Go ahead.
AUDIENCE: My name is Kelly and I want to know if the world is going to know when Jesus returns for the saints – if the world’s going to see this and if there’s a scripture that’s saying they will or won’t?
JOHN: The question basically can be answered this way. Obviously the world is going to know something happened. It appears as though they’re not going to acknowledge what is that happened. For example, when the rapture occurs, which is what you’re asking about, and the Lord just catches away the Christians, which is the end of the church age, when that occurs, the world is going to have to know that, because millions of people will instantly disappear. There will be no bodies left. None. And I’ve often wondered what would happen to the people in the morgue and the embalming places who are sort of in process, when the mortician goes back in and can’t find anybody and they start searching around for the body snatchers that supposedly took these cadavers that would be joined with their spirits and so forth. No, that’s going to happen for sure.
But the world apparently does not acknowledge that, because there’s no great revival following the rapture. For three-and-a-half – a seven year period called tribulation follows the rapture. The first three-and-a-half years there’s no revival of any kind at all. In fact, with the church gone, there’s really nobody left to evangelize. And it’s kind of like what Jesus said to the rich man and Lazarus. You remember the rich man said, let me go back and tell my brothers and warn them. And Jesus said if they don’t believe the scriptures, they wouldn’t believe the one who rose from the dead. And if they don’t believe the scriptures, they aren’t going to believe – the rapture either isn’t going to make them believe. In fact the very opposite happens, and when the two witnesses of Revelation 11 are sent around the world, and I believe they’re in the first three-and-a-half. Two witnesses, called olive branches and lampstands, are sent around the world to preach. The world kills them. That’s how hostile they are.
Now people have often asked me, well, how can they explain this away? Let me give you an illustration. Some years ago, there was a young man who came to our church and he was commissioned by the Schirmer Music Company, which is probably one of the largest music publishers in the world. They publish an awful lot of church music. But the Schirmers, the people at that time, from what he told me, who ran the company, were into the occult up to their ears and were contacting mediums and spirits. They had this society – I can’t think of the name of it anymore, but it was down in Santa Monica. They met and they went through these deals with these mediums contacting demon spirits and all this. And this young man was commissioned to write a rock opera, very much like Jesus Christ Superstar, one of those, called Illezium 1990 (???). And he wrote the whole thing, and he said it was all written by demon spirits, in other words, it was automatic writing. He said down and his hand moved and he just made the notes, and he knew he was under the control of demon spirits. He did it very rapidly and all of this kind of thing. He said he got further involved in this New Age Society kind of occult thing, Society of the Golden Dawn or something like that, and when he got in it he learned some very interesting things.
They gave him a book and he brought me the book. He brought me this book and in this book was a very interesting section. The book said that we have our demons located in various planets. We have them located in the United Nations. We have our spirit beings located in the government of all the countries of the world and we’re working on this sort of massive plan and all this stuff. And one of the sections of the book was very interesting. It said that someday we are going to remove all the Christians from the earth who are holding back society from reaching the next level of consciousness. So the demons have already laid out some kind of a strategy and an explanation for the rapture. They’re just going to tell the people who are connected to them that they’ve removed these people so the society can rise to a higher level. And unbelieving people are going to buy that faster than they’re going to buy the truth.
So I don’t think there’ll be a great revival at that time, no. The great revival comes in the middle of the tribulation when God seals 144,000 Jews and sends them out all over the world to evangelize. And then when all hell breaks loose across the earth, that’s what drives people to an understanding of the salvation that comes in Christ. Okay?
AUDIENCE: Mm-hmm. Thank you.
AUDIENCE: Hi, John. My name is Bernie, and I’ve got a question here from the book of John, first chapter. I’ve studying this book, and it kind of struck me here. When I’m reading chapter 1 in verse 12 when Satan is talking to God and tell him –
JOHN: Oh, Job?
AUDIENCE: Job, yes.
JOHN: I thought you said John.
AUDIENCE: No, Job, excuse me. Okay, and he’s saying, he’s asking God to give him a test and then, “The Lord said unto Satan, ‘Behold, all that he had is in thy power, only upon himself put not forth thine hand.’” Only upon himself, put not forth thine hand. “So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.” And then he got the trials. Now in chapter 2, I read here when the Lord said, “And the LORD said unto Satan, ‘Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on earth, a perfect and upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil, and still he hold fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him to destroy him without cause.’” Now my question is, did Satan did those things to Job or did God did the – to him.
JOHN: Yeah, that’s a good question. And the answer to the question is Satan did these things to Job, but God allowed him to do them, and God allowed him to do them to prove His point, that He had a faithful man. You see, Satan is ever and always the accuser of the brethren, it says in Revelation. He’s always accusing the brethren before God, and this is one occasion where he says you don’t even have one righteous man. He says, “Okay, go down there and do anything you want short of taking the life of Job.” You can do anything you want to him and he’ll stay true to me, show you there is true faith on the earth. So the answer is that Satan did these things, but God allowed him to do those things. Satan always functions within the allowance of God, never beyond that. God is not intimidated by Satan. He is not forced by Satan into anything. He is simply saying there in verse 3, You moved me against him. Well, in the sense that God took His protecting hand off.
AUDIENCE: Yeah. Thank you.
JOHN: You’re welcome.
AUDIENCE: Pastor John, my name is Charles Miller. I have a question relating to the direction that the church generally, the Christian church in America is taking, and in particular Grace Church. We are as Christians admonished to be salt in a corrupt world. I feel though that many times Christians who are sincere believers are not always terribly well informed as to the state of the world. The newspapers, some newspapers, are quite misleading. Television is – has its devotees among the Christian community, but the television is slanted news. So we’re really given a piecemeal diet and it’s very difficult for Christians to sort out fact from fiction.
What I have in mind is a proposal and question at the same time as to the direction that Grace Church proposes to take in teaching its body of saints certain facts relating to the world around us. We know from a insert in the bulletin two weeks ago that the federal government through the IRS has its eyes on Christian schools with the expectation that if the Christian schools don’t balance their racial quotas, why the government will remove the church from its tax exempt status. That is only one battle front. There are others as we know. Abortion is another. So what I have in mind is a proposal here, that contains several subjects which I think would be of interest, general interest to the body here. We’ve just completed a Wednesday night series on occults and Logos has had one course that I know of our stewardship. But I think there are just touching the periphery of the possibilities.
For example, let me read from a short list I’ve made up here. Why not inform the body of believers about the situation of the government verses God, working into it a history of this country when it was Christian instead of humanistic? We need to know more about stewardship, not just money management but resources. We need to know more about Communism. We need to know something about the sociology of religion. Dr. Francis Schafer pointed out that in his book How Show We Then Live that religion is becoming sociological, that is to say that preachers are tailoring their sermons to meet the expediencies of the community. Perhaps we could learn something about the dictatorship of a godless majority and the leveling influence that it has on all of society. You know, a dictatorship abhors another system that has its absolutes, and our absolute is the very God above.
JOHN: Okay, let me stop you at that point so I can react to that. Basically I think all those things are very helpful things, and let me tell you my response as to a course in that. And you’re coming down a track that I think is very important. Some years ago, a very close friend of mine, Dr. John Stead, who is the Dean of Los Angeles Baptist College out here and has his PhD in sociology – has all his life, as long as I’ve known him – we played football and baseball and stuff in high school – but he was always politically oriented in his thinking, and all through his life he’s tracked these kind of things. A few years ago, we ran a special course, which he taught, on the believer – informing him about civil government, giving him a history of political science, a history of forms of government. I had a conversation with him the other day because I was very concerned that some students going to a Christian school in our area were being given George Orwell’s book 1984 to read about totalitarianism. Well, George Orwell’s 1984 is not a good book on totalitarianism; it’s fiction. If they wanted to read a good book on it, they should read Arthur Kessler’s book Darkness At Noon, which is the classic treatment of Russian totalitarianism of the ‘30s which was the revolt that put Communism into power. But I’m very concerned about those kinds of themes, so I would agree with that. And I think we will in the very near future have a special course on that available to our people, because there are some very current issues.
Secondly, when we sent Sam Ericson to Washington, D.C. – and we have supported him – I don't know if you know that – we have supported Sam to the amount of about $2,000.00 a month as a project of Grace Church as he has developed the Center for Law and Religious Freedom of the Christian Legal Society, which is a lobby group. It’s a conservative evangelical group to counter the ACLU. But there is a new lobby group, and they’ve been extremely effective. They have not only been effective in lobbying for many, many cases in Washington, they have newsletters that are available that can keep us informed, and if you’ll call my office we’ll give you their address and you can be regularly on the mailing list to get the information from the Christian Legal Society and the Center for Law and Religious Freedom.
AUDIENCE: Thank you.
JOHN: And then you can become a real catalyst in that area. Secondly, they have been asked on several occasions by the White House to recommend key people that could go into White House staff and right now they have placed two born-again, evangelical, conservative attorney’s in the White House staff, who are working personally with the president’s cabinet in these matters. So they’ve had a tremendous impact. I do agree with that.
Now let me say a third thing, and then we’ll go on to another question. The third thing I want to say is, it’s difficult for me to see myself in that role, because that’s not what God has called me to do, so I want you to understand that I feel the priority to do what the Lord has enabled and called me to do. But while admit that that’s not my emphasis, I do admit also that it’s helpful for us to have a sense of that and to understand where our country is going and what freedoms we are perhaps losing, because we need to take the means that are put at our disposal to deal with these issues. So I appreciate that. That’s very helpful. Thank you, Charles.
AUDIENCE: Thank you, John.
JOHN: Okay, we’ll go back onto this side. Ed?
AUDIENCE: John, I have a question that has basically two parts. First part is more of semantics, and that is our DE manual refers to my Lord Jesus Christ as having two natures, the divine nature and the human nature. And in some of our dealing with people I run across that this conjures up ideas of psychological problems, split personalities and what. And I’m wondering, do you think it would be better to refer to my Lord Jesus Christ as being totally God and totally man or fully God and fully man? And the other part of the question is, or the second part is, is one of these concepts – in other words the two-nature concept versus the fully God and fully man concept – is one of these concepts more apt to lead to heresy?
JOHN: Well, I don’t think one or the other is more apt to lead necessarily to heresy, because you’re only talking about semantics. Words can have meaning that varies from person to person. That’s why we talk about buzz words. You know, you can say a word that conjures up all kinds of meanings. When you say two natures, Christ has two natures, the Bible doesn’t say that. And so I understand why they say that, because they’re trying to unscrew the inscrutable, trying to explain the inexplicable. And it’s true that Jesus Christ is God and He is man. I would chose myself to say He is fully God and fully man at the same time. And I would rather talk in those terms of apparent paradox, because they’re more biblical. I mean, He is expressed in the scripture as fully God. He is also presented as fully man. When you start using psychological terminology, which is the two nature terminology, I think it’s a little confusing.
The same thing occurs when we were talking about Romans 7. We do that with Christians; we say they have an old nature and a new nature, and again we’re sort of compartmentalizing them psychologically, which isn’t really biblical either. Those aren’t terms used in reference to a Christian. So I always opt out for a biblical term, because I think you protect the content that way. As soon as you use a non-biblical term to refer to a biblical idea or a theological truth, then you have to give it meaning or you have to let the culture as they understand it give it meaning. But if it’s in scriptural terms, the Bible is it’s context, so I would prefer that.
AUDIENCE: Okay, thank you.
JOHN: Thank you, Ed.
AUDIENCE: Hi, John. My name is Keith Barret. I was speaking to a friend at work the other day who is Mormon and I asked him how the Mormon church got so involved in the genealogy aspect that they’re involved in, and he brought up the baptism for the dead that the Mormon church does. And he quoted a verse, and I can’t remember the reference now, but it went something – I believe it’s one of the books that Paul wrote.
JOHN: 1 Corinthians 14:29.
AUDIENCE: I knew you’d know it. For if we baptise, we also baptise for the dead and whatever, and he quoted that verse. And then proceeded to tell me more about their very strange baptism for the dead routine. I was wondering if you could briefly explain the real meaning of that verse?
JOHN: Yeah, I can. Just first, let me say, the thing that boggles my mind about Mormonism is that the whole goal of Mormonism is to enter into eternal celestial sex and populate your own planet. Now if that’s not the weirdest most perverted – you know, all pagan religions have a sexual bent to them. Whether you go back to the prostitutes of Baal or whatever. They all seem to get twisted, and that’s Mormonism. The real goal of Mormonism is to get your own planet and your own spirit wife and engage in eternal celestial sex and populate your own planet. It’s bizarre.
Now look at 1 Corinthians 14:29, and I’ll try my best to explain it to you. And let me say at the very beginning that I really don’t know what it means. But I don’t feel bad because no one else does either. And the reason is because the passage is so limited and obscure and there isn’t a lot of data given to us. It’s like that lady that asked about – on Sunday night, when she said, why do people disagree. Well, this is one of the things they disagree on. For example, there are 35 different views of this one verse, that I myself went through when I was doing a paper in seminary.
AUDIENCE: John, I think that’s 15:29.
JOHN: I’m sorry, yes, 15. What did I say, 14? Yeah, 15:29. “Else what shall they do which who are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?” Now I think what Paul is doing here, he’s trying to show that there must be resurrection, and he’s trying to show how obvious that is. One of the ways which he demonstrates that is to play off of some contemporary religious belief that was in existence at that time, and he is simply saying, there are people who baptize for the dead. If there’s no resurrection from the dead, why do they do that? In other words, he’s dealing with first century Mormonism, and in trying to show the universality of a concept of life after death, he plays off of an existing cult that believed that you could be baptized for the dead, which means they believed that people lived after death. Right? So I think that’s all he’s doing. I don’t think it means that you can get baptized and get somebody out of purgatory or out of Tartarus or out of hell or out of punishment into glory. I don’t think it means that people are being baptized to fill up the ranks of Christians who’ve died. That’s another very prominent view, that Christians die and others have to be baptized to take the place of the dead in the army of the Lord to carry on the work. I think he’s simply saying, even your own pagan religions affirm the resurrection as a concept. Why else would people be being baptized for dead people, if it wasn’t in the heart of man to believe in a resurrection? Okay? So he is just playing off of what would have been a contemporary Mormon view in those days.
AUDIENCE: Thank you.
AUDIENCE: Hi, John. The question I’d like to ask is that when a person dies, anywhere from a child to an adult, assuming that they are Christians, and they enter into the presence of the Lord, are they the same age as far as their earthly age goes when they enter into heaven?JOHN: Well, there’s no age in eternity. There’s no age.
AUDIENCE: Same size?
JOHN: Well, you see their body wouldn’t even go to be with the Lord yet, till the rapture of the church. You say, well they’ll rapture the body at that time. It’ll be the same as it was when it was dead. I don't know. It says we’ll be like Christ. I don’t think that means we’re all going to look exactly like Christ, be the same height, the same width, the same features, and the same, you know, physical traits. I just know we will know as we are known, therefore we’ll enter into full maturity of mind and consciousness. We will be fully developed as human beings in the body, because we’ll have the eternally glorified body. There won’t be any limitations, and a child would limited by strength, a child would be limited by stamina. But when it enters into an eternal body, everything changes. I mean you have a celestial body. It’s not like and earthly body. It’s completely different from an earthly body. It’s a moot point how old well be, because we’ll be in eternal perfection, and yet that perfection will be distinct for each one of us. We’re not going to all all of a sudden come out like cookie cutter units; we’ll be unique, but we’ll be mature in every sense.
AUDIENCE: Okay, thanks.
AUDIENCE: My name is Linda, and I wanted you to explain speaking in tongues, because I don’t understand it at all.
JOHN: Oh, well, speaking in tongues. Somebody said speaking in tongues is the guy who said, “Bought a Honda. Shoulda bought a Yamaha.” If you listen carefully you’ll get what I said. I’ll say it again. Bought a Honda. Shoulda bought a Yamaha. That sounds to me like that’s bought a Honda, shoulda bought a Yamaha. But it sounds like that to me. No, I’m being facetious. Let me explain it to you. Went by fast didn’t it.
Okay. The best thing I can do, Linda, to help you understand that is to just simply say this. In the apostolic age in the book of Acts, when the church was born, God gave to His people on the day of Pentecost, in Acts 2 the ability to speak many languages which they had not learned. It was a miracle. And as all miracles, it was intended to get their attention to demonstrate that God was there. In other words, when you see a miracle, you know God is present. Right? And so when that miracle happened, it collected these people and they were amazed, because here were all these uneducated Galileans talking all the languages of the people gathered in Jerusalem for the time of the Pentecost feast. And so they spoke in all these languages the wonderful works of God. And people came together as a crowd, and having attracted them with the fact that God must be there because of these miraculous languages – in other words, they weren’t gibberish. They were actual languages spoken by these people. And every one heard in their own language what they were saying, the amazing and wonderful works of God. That drew the crowd, and they said, boy, this is a divine miracle. And it was at that moment that out of that group of people speaking stepped Peter and preached to them the gospel. So that the tongues was a way for God to get their attention – to get their attention.
Now, this continued in the early church, this speaking in tongues. In fact, when the next group of Christians after the Jews, which would be in Acts chapter 8, the Samaritans were saved, they too had the same phenomenon. Why? Because Jews already looked down on Samaritans and God wanted to be sure that the Samaritans received the same miraculous sign when they entered into the church that the Jews had received, so there wouldn’t be any second-class citizenry. Right? You go further into chapter 10 and you have Gentiles. So we’ve gone from Jews to Samaritans to Gentiles. When the Gentiles received the gospel and believed, they too spoke in those tongues. And God was saying, it’s all one church. Nobody is a second-class citizen, nobody at all. And so those are very important events. Now, when you go into 1 Corinthians 14, the apostle Paul says tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not. What are they a sign of? They’re a sign that God is present and about to speak, for one thing, and secondly, in 1 Corinthians 14 it says they are a sign to Israel. What are they a sign of? Well, you go back to Isaiah, and Isaiah says, you don’t listen to me when I speak your language, so some day I’m going to speak a language you don’t understand. And so tongues were a two-fold sign. One, they attracted the attention of people to show that God was there. Two, they said to the Jews, you haven’t heard when God spoke in your language and now He’s going to speak a language you can’t hear. So it was a judicial sign of judgement on Israel.
After that era, I believe tongues ceased, and that’s 1 Corinthians 13, “Whether there be tongues, they shall cease.” And I believe they ceased. Now today, people have started up speaking in tongues again, and it’s been since 1900 or a little after, that it started up again. And the question is if it ceased for 1800 years, how could it start again. Well, they try to go back to Joel and get a verse that says the former rain and the later rain and this is the later rain and God’s bringing it back. But that’s very unfair to the text. So I believe what we have today could basically be explained as demonic, counterfeit. And by the way, I don't know if you know this, Tibetan monks speak in tongues. Eskimos speak in tongues, many of their tribes, so do Mormons, who don’t even believe the gospel. So it could be satanic. Secondly, and probably the most common thing, it is learned behavior. Somebody started it and there was a euphoria about it, and so you sort of get into the swing and you learn how to do it. There’s some ecstasy – two Lutherans by the name of Kildall and Colben (???) did a survey and study of this thing, and their primary result was that it’s learned behavior. And you have a certain person who’s predisposed to that kind of thing emotionally and he learns how to do it and falls into that. Just like there are hypnotizable and non-hypnotizable people, there are certain psychological types of people who fall easier prey to that kind of phenomenon. But there’s no need for us as Christians to seek that. I think it’s a wrong thing to seek.
Now, I wrote a book called The Charismatics, you can get it in the bookstore, and it has a whole section on tongues. Coming up in January we’re going to do the whole 1 Corinthians 12, 13, and 14 on the radio. Now we’ve not done that. We’ve been on the radio over five, six years now, and we’ve not done that, but it needs to be done. And we feel we’ve built a solid enough audience out there we’re going to get it when we do it, I know. We’re going to get some flack, but we need to make it clear. And at that time, we will have the tape album on 1 Corinthians 12 to 14 available, and also a study book which will go detail by detail through 1 Corinthians 12, 13, and 14, explaining the whole passage on tongues. Okay?
AUDIENCE: Okay, well, if someone told me that she was a born again Christian and that she speaks in tongues –?
JOHN: Very possible.
AUDIENCE: It is?
JOHN: Sure, I’ve said this before. I’m not worried about them getting to heaven. I’m worried about them going right on by. They get to flying and they just miss it. They may love the Lord. They really may love the Lord and they’re just misguided on this. You see, what they’re doing is they’re looking for a spiritual experience, an instant spirituality. See, the group says this, if you want to be spiritual, speak in tongues. That’s tremendous pressure. That is tremendous pressure. I get letters from people all the time who come out of that after years of living under this bondage of pressure and falsifying an experience so they can say they belong. But I’ve never spoken in tongues.
I had occasion that was kind of an interesting thing. I think I may have told you about it. But some time back I was invited to speak to the Full Gospel Business Men – did I tell you that? – Full Gospel Business Men International Luncheon. I don't know what they were doing inviting me to – somebody goofed on their committee. If they had heard that I was open to this, and so they asked me to come and speak on what I thought about charismatics. And I did. I really did. And I was very gracious to them, but very straightforward about these things. And I went right down the line on true spirituality and all these kind of things. And I was just – and these guys were aghast. I mean, they were dumbfounded. They were just – who brought this turkey in here? What is – and finally – I wasn’t even done, and this guy pulled me down into my chair, and said, “Well, thank you, brother.” And stepped right up, and I was there right in my seat, you know. And he said, “We’re going to all pray that some night in the middle of the night you’re going to get the baptism.” So I got up and sort of asked if I could have another word or two and said a few things.
But afterwards, this is an interesting side light, three or four or five people came by and talked to me, and said, you know, I’ve been in this for years and years and I do this and I do this. And I asked them to explain to me the gospel. One guy said, “Well, you see it’s like this, there’s this big staircase and there’s this guy named Jesus at the top. And you do your best to get up the stairs, and if you can get all way to the top He’ll let you in.” I said, “My friend, you’re not saved. You don’t even know the gospel.” So here’s a guy nine years with an experience that doesn’t even know the gospel. So it’s an experience – some people put a lot of stock in it. They think it makes them happier. They think they’ve never been a great a witness as they’ve been since they did that. Boy, they have joy in their life. Sure, you know why? Because the pressure is on them that if you’re going to be spiritual, you’ve got to do this. And boy, once you’ve done it, you’re a part of the in group, and there’s a certain release and euphoria about having arrived spiritually by those standards. And people who’ve come out of that – at the end of my book I have a letter from a guy named L.C. His name is Lou Castle, in our church. And he was converted out of that, and he explains what is was like to be released from that bondage. But you can get that book, and then later on we’ll have that little study book on tongues too. Okay?
AUDIENCE: Thank you.
AUDIENCE: Hello, John. I have some non-Christian friends, and I was wondering, they’re trying to seek God but they’re afraid to take a stand for Jesus, and I was wondering if you could give me some advice on that?
JOHN: I mean, well, that’s the whole issue. They’re seeking God, again, on their own terms, you know. Jesus said in John 10 – I mean, in Matthew 10, if you confess Me before men, I’ll confess you before My Father. Right? If you deny Me before men, him will I deny – let me find that verse specifically. I’m just sort of rambling about it. Let me be sure. Yeah, 32, 10:32, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before My Father who is in heaven. Whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” In other words, Jesus forces them to pay the price. I remember one time I was preaching downtown in a rescue mission when I was just a young guy. And I was just – boy, I was pouring my heart out and giving the gospel to these guys and half of them were just zonked out, you know, stoned beyond belief, just flopped over, you know. And I was just pouring out my heart. Some of them were listening, and I said, “Is there anybody in here” – and I’d gone through the whole crucifixion and how Jesus walked down the middle of the street, people spit on Him, bleeding, naked, carrying a cross, bore all the shame, the embarrassment, the ridicule, the mockery, the whole deal. I said, “Is there one man here who has the courage to stand for Jesus Christ who stood for him, who died for him. Anybody here? Is there one man here?” And nobody moved. Nobody moved. And I didn’t realize it at the time, but they had a PA system outside and it was blaring it onto 4th Street down in L.A. And all of a sudden the backdoor opened and this guy came right in the backdoor and walked right down to the front. He said, “I’ll be that man.” And I had the privilege of leading him to Christ.
If a person isn’t willing to stand with Jesus Christ who was willing to take what He took for them, then there’s a lack of honesty in the seeking, so you need to confront them with that. You see, you don’t want to let people feel good about stopping short. Oh, you’re doing great, boy, you’re coming right along. No, no. You want to force then to realize that no decision is a decision against Christ. Very important to do that.
AUDIENCE: How could you talk to them and say you’ve got to do it this way, full bore or nothing? How would you do that in a nice way?
JOHN: I think if you care about them, it’ll come out in a nice way. Sure. Just take them to Matthew 10. Take them to Matthew 16. Later in Matthew 10, He says if you’re not willing to deny yourself, take up your cross, follow me, you’re not worthy to be My disciple. Take them to Matthew 8 where He says – a guy come along and says, “I’ll be happy to follow you Lord, I just got to go home and bury my” – deal. Well, I’m going to help you. I got to go home, take care of a few things, kiss my family goodbye. And the Lord says forget it. Any man who puts his hand to the plow and looks back isn’t worthy. You can’t plow a straight furrow looking backwards. So just use the scripture. The scripture has great power. Find the verses. Maybe write them in a letter. Share them with the guy and say, “Here’s something I want you to read.”
AUDIENCE: Also, if you have parents that tend to believe in evolution, how would you come to approach them?
JOHN: Well, you’ve got to expose them to authority, and it’s hard for you to do that. I mean, you’re not great scientists, right, and neither am I. I can’t go in and say, “No, I’m going to tell you all these great scientific truths.” But what you can do is say – and this is the way I would approach it, and I approach this this way with people. Do you want to know about origins, do you really want to know? Because if you really honestly want to know, then you need to consider some very interesting available information and try to expose them to the information that is available.
I start with people on this basis, now if you believe in evolution, this is what you believe: Nobody times nothing equals everything. Okay, that’s what you believe. Now that we’ve established that, let’s think about that. Nobody times nothing equals everything. Man, that takes great faith. And not only that, faith in nothing and nobody. I mean that’s not very far from idiocy. So you start there by the absurdity of it, I think, and then say, now, all we believe is that there is a cause, which is the only sensible thing you could ever believe. Now we want to determine who that cause is. And then there are so many good books on this in the bookstore, excellent stuff available. Put that in their hand and challenge them to read it. And you know, if they really care about you, say, hey, I’m concerned about this. This is something I’m really working through. I’d like you to read this and we can talk about it. And confront it that way. Okay?
AUDIENCE: Thank you very much.
JOHN: You’re welcome.
AUDIENCE: Hi, John. My name is Salim. There’s a scripture in Matthew 27:9 about – Matthew had quoted a scripture from the Old Testament and had credited it to Jeremiah instead, but it’s actually from Zechariah. I was asked this question before. I really don’t know how to answer that.
JOHN: Very interesting that you ask that. It says, “That was fulfilled which was spoken by Jeremiah.” Let me tell you what I think is the best explanation of that. He quotes a thing that’s spoken by Jeremiah and then it’s a quote that comes from Zechariah, and there are two reasons for that. Reason number one is the message here contained is from Jeremiah. Okay? The exact words are taken from Zechariah. But Jeremiah was a prophet of greater priority. So he refers it to Jeremiah. And there’s a second reason – very, very important. In the Talmudic order of prophets, which the Jews listed in the Talmud, Jeremiah was the lead name in the role of the prophets, therefore a reference to Jeremiah could be a reference to the whole role of the prophets. So it’s very possibly that he’s just seeing the priority of Jeremiah as the lead prophet. Either one of those or both. Okay?
AUDIENCE: Okay, I accept that. I just want to make a comment about the lady who was before me on the subject of tongues. I have a friend of mine who is a medical doctor from the country which I came from. He’s a Christian and he has witnessed to quite a few people up there using tongues and healings and miracles, and he has spoken different tongues. And because of that, many have come to Christ. So I can’t really understand why you would say that tongues have ceased when he has done that miracle.
JOHN: Let me ask this question. Is the proof of tongues the experience of your friend? Or the testimony of scripture?
AUDIENCE: It’s a testimony.
JOHN: Okay, so I don’t need to answer the experience of your friend. He needs to see where that fits with scripture. I don’t want to sit in judgement on his experience, but I know this. I’m not convinced that something is true because somebody experienced it. I mean, drunks think they see pink elephants, but they don’t I mean, if the guy preaches the gospel, the gospel is so powerful, people will get saved. I’m not sure that we can say that because this was added to the gospel this was the reason. I’m not denying that God is a God of miracles, and I’m not denying that there may be a time and an occasion when God might give the ability to speak a language to someone to reach them with the message of Jesus Christ in a language they otherwise wouldn’t know, but that’s different than the gift of tongues, which was a sign gift to Israel. Now whether God is doing that in some isolated situations, I’m not going to put God in a box at that point. But I do know that we do not qualify truth on the basis of anyone’s experience. But that person’s experience has to stand the test of the word of God.
AUDIENCE: Well, that’s what he was doing. He was not really speaking in tongues for praying, like it says in Corinthians. He was speaking in tongues just because he could speak in another language.
JOHN: Yeah, and I don’t want to deny that. I’m skeptical obviously because I hear things like that a lot and I question because I haven’t had firsthand experience, but I don't want to second guess him.
AUDIENCE: Okay, thank you.
JOHN: Thank you.
AUDIENCE: John, in light of the fact that Christ said, “It is finished,” before He died, physically, and because He addressed God the Father in the _____ Father, again, He said, “My God, My God,” isn’t that more or less proof that the fellowship of Christ with the Father had been restored before His physical death and that the atonement was accomplished through a spiritual deal rather than His physical death?
JOHN: I’m not sure that I necessarily follow that logic, that reasoning. What He called the Father, what He called God doesn’t necessarily carry in it evidence to support that particular view point.
AUDIENCE: Well, He was being judged at that time and [crosstalk]
JOHN: Yes, I think He could have said, “Father, Father, why hast thou forsaken Me?” But He said, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me,” as a direct quote out of Psalm 22. And if you understand the Old Testament, you will understand that in the Old Testament there are no references that I can think of to God as the Father of an individual. He appears in the Old Testament as the Father of a nation not of an individual. So it would have been uncommon if the psalmist had said, “Father, Father, why hast thou forsaken me?” It would have been more consistent to say, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Because the Father concept isn’t really fully developed until the Savior develops that concept in the New Testament time. So I think that – I think Christ on the cross bore sin’s penalty both physically and spiritually. Okay?
AUDIENCE: Can I respond to that for a second?
AUDIENCE: Wasn’t there a great deal of physical agony experienced by Christ prior to being on the cross?
AUDIENCE: The scourging and a lot of blood shed prior to the cross.
JOHN: Oh, you mean sweating, as it were, great drops of blood in the garden?
AUDIENCE: No, I mean the scourging from the Romans.
AUDIENCE: And it also says that He was physically marred before He even went to the cross. And he never cried out in physical pain, but it was the spiritual – at noon, darkness covered the face of the earth. Now some say that between 9:00 and 12:+00 – I mean 9:00 and 3:00 he was on the cross, but when that thick darkness covered the place of the atonement, that was when he was bearing the sins of the world and when he was crying out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken” –
JOHN: See, it’s so mysterious that we really can’t know. Again, trying to compartmentalize all these things is very difficult. Trying to find two rigid categories for them. I believe that Christ – you see you can’t – where do you draw the line between the Savior suffering in anticipation of sin bearing and suffering bearing sin. In other words, in the garden is He suffering and sweating, as it were, great drops of blood. Is His whole physical system collapsing so that He begins to hemorrhage all over His body in anxiety or anticipation of what He is about to undergo, because if anyone in the world knew what it was going to be, He knew because He knew everything. So the pain of sin bearing could have been as great before it happened as it was when it happened, in a sense, physically. Right?
AUDIENCE: I don't know.
JOHN: Let’s assume that He knows everything. So He knows what it would be like to bear the weight of sin. It could me great enough to crush in in the garden. He had not yet drank the cup, because He says, “Let this cup pass from me.” But I do believe that Christ bore the weight of sin physically. But I think as you’ve said, the greater weight of sin, the greater death, was the spiritual separation from God. What you’re asking is was there a restoration before He actually physically died? I don't know. Obviously when He said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit,” there was a great sense of rest in His heart, and you may be right. It may be that by that time the sin bearing was over and as He was dying at that instant, He knew it was over. And I believe that when He said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit,” at that split second He died. Now whether He said that knowing in a split second the sin bearing would be over or sensing that it was already over –
AUDIENCE: Well, he also, I believe, He refused the wine before those – before the six hours were finished. And then when he was speaking to God in the _____ of my Father, He accepted the wine.
JOHN: Well, the first thing he refused was a sedative, because He wanted to undergo the full weight of the sin bearing. Yeah, that’s a good thought. Appreciate it.
AUDIENCE: My question is based on Matthew chapter 11 verse 21.
JOHN: Okay, we’ll just finish up with these that are here and then we’ll try to do it real fast. Matthew what?
AUDIENCE: Matthew chapter 11 verse 21. Jesus said, “Woe to you Chorazin, woe to you Bethsaida for if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Never the less, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgement than for you.” Now, how can it be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon when in the book of Revelation chapter 20 verse 15 it simply says, “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” It doesn’t seem that it would make any difference.
JOHN: There are degrees of punishment. Now, they’re all bad, but the key verse you want to look at is Hebrews 10:26. Can you read it there, Hebrews 10:26?
AUDIENCE: Sure. “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.”
JOHN: Okay, read the verse in front of it.
AUDIENCE: “Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
JOHN: Okay, read the one after it.
AUDIENCE: You mean 26 again?
JOHN: 29. Just read 29.
AUDIENCE: Okay, “How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled underfoot the Son of God and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified and was insulted – and has insulted the spirit of grace.”
JOHN: Okay, what is the first few words of that verse?
AUDIENCE: How much severer.
JOHN: See, there are degrees of punishment. Some more severe than others, depending on how much knowledge of Christ you had. And the greater judgement is rendered on Chorazin and Bethsaida because they had Jesus Christ right there. Tyre and Sidon didn’t. So there are degrees of punishment. There must be degrees of punishment. We don’t understand what that means any more than we understand the degrees of reward, because how much more can you have than perfection? But that’s what scripture says. Okay? Yes?
AUDIENCE: Yes, John, I’ve had this answered before, but I wanted to hear it from you. My brother and his wife are both Christians and they went to Viola, and my brother taught at Viola. In the last three years he started teaching at a Catholic high school, and he feels that I’m really narrow minded about Catholics. And in particular he feels that many of the priests that he knows at this high school actually have salvation. My question is, can a Catholic priest be saved and remain a Catholic priest?
JOHN: Not if he believes the Catholic system. If he doesn’t accept their baggage, if he believes his salvation is provided only through grace by faith in Jesus Christ, he can be saved. But if he accepts the full sweep of Catholic dogma, there’s no way. He has cluttered up the simplicity of salvation with a works righteousness system. But there are priests in the system, as you know. Catholicism tolerates its dissidence. It absorbs them and therefore perpetuates its system. It doesn’t expel them. That’s why it lasts so long. And there are within the system those priests who have come to an understanding. Do you know Martin Luther never left the Roman Catholic church? Never. He stayed in the system. But he rejected the corruption of the doctrine of salvation.
AUDIENCE: Now, they started going to a Reformed Church in Paramount. Do you know anything about the Reformed Church? Is it an offshoot of Dutch Reformed?
JOHN: You mean he’s teaching in a Catholic school and going to a reformed church?
JOHN: He’s going to really be schizoid, because the reformed people are deaf on the Roman Catholic Church.
AUDIENCE: Well, is it like Dutch Reformed, the Reformed Church?
JOHN: Well, yes, the Reformed Church basically finds its roots in the Reformation. It traditionally goes back to John Calvin. There can be a lot of different kinds of reformed church. Unfortunately many reformed churches are dead. Many of them believe in sort of a covenantal salvation, believing in infant baptism brings their children into the family of the redeemed. It depends on what reformed church it is. It depends on whether you mean reformed in the sense that they adhere to a reformed doctrine of theology or whether reformed in the traditional denomination sense, which probably is rather dead and without an understanding of really the spirit controlled life and the things that we know to be basic in Christian faith. They would deny a place for Israel. They would affirm that there’s no millennial kingdom. All the promises to Israel are resolved in the church and so forth.
AUDIENCE: Well, he likes the church because the guy wears the robe and –
JOHN: Sounds to me like he’s rebelling. It sounds to me like he’s going through a time of rebelling against his roots. There was something in his early experience in Christianity that was unfulfilling to him and disillusioning to him, he was unwilling to accept. I don't know where he’s at, but very often when people react against the freedom of an evangelical kind of Bible church orientation such as what Viola would be, they go to a more high church experience. I don't know why, but I hope if it’s a reformed church that they exalt Christ. Most would, and that they have the straight doctrine of salvation.
AUDIENCE: He feels that Grace doesn’t know what worship is. I’ve sent him your book on worship, by the way, because I read it and –
JOHN: Has he reacted to it?
AUDIENCE: Well, got it in the mail and then put it aside. I read the book, and I told him that it’s a book that need to read at least twice a year. So I don't know.
JOHN: Well, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. Right? So if you give him what you think he needs, that’s a good start.
AUDIENCE: Okay, thanks.
JOHN: Hi, how you feeling?
AUDIENCE: A little bit better but still not completely.
AUDIENCE: I have a question in terms of on how you following the ruler or the king or the president of a particular country in terms of military stint or a war. I heard you were answering a question once and you were saying that being a Christian and a citizen of the United States, you have to follow it’s leader if it’s a war against – whatever. But if you would be a Cuban and you was also a Christian and a citizen and you would see that it’s not a right cause, you would not go in it, into this war.
AUDIENCE: Now, how do you know what’s the right cause or wrong cause? And being a Soviet citizen –
JOHN: Simple as this, if you’re a defender or an aggressor.
AUDIENCE: Well, not always. Being a Soviet citizen, I never knew whether we were defendants or aggressors. But yet, being –
JOHN: You were aggressors. Just to make the point.
AUDIENCE: I agree with you. That’s right. We were. We still – I mean, they still are.
JOHN: I mean, you don’t go into Afghanistan and massacre millions of people and say that’s a just war. What are the Afghan people doing against the Soviet Union?
AUDIENCE: But that’s not how the thing is presented.
JOHN: No, I understand.
AUDIENCE: I’ve never been in the free world, and when I came to the United States, even though I came here because of jeans and chewing gum, when I came to this country, I still thought that America was aggressor. And I just didn’t mind the aggressor for the jeans and the chewing gum, but I still thought –
JOHN: You thought we were the bad guys. Of course.
AUDIENCE: Yes, I couldn’t believe. Now a question. Being a Christian and living in the Soviet Union and being a citizen of that country, not aware of what is happening, and you are called to go to the war – by the way, the German war, nobody knew what happened really, with the Germans, and they accidentally just – and they are a smaller country than Russia, so you could probably figure it out, that it’s not a fair war. In fact a lot of Christian people probably open the door for them to walk in, but when they saw the disaster they follow – in other words, how do you follow the ruler? On the first call, you think about it, and then –
JOHN: Well, a lot of good Lutheran boys went out and murdered Jews, too, in Germany when they were called to fight. You know, Germany – Nazi Germany was a Lutheran country in many, many ways. You have to deal with what you know. And if you’re under a system and you don’t understand that, then you can only deal with the data you understand. And I think the Lord knows that. I don’t think – maybe in those kind of countries, obviously where there’s – look at the Chinese people. They have to filter through that and seek the mind of the Lord. I think if you were a Christian in Russia, you can’t think like a Christian if you’re not one. So you’re looking back to the time before you were saved?
AUDIENCE: That’s right.
JOHN: Okay, if you were like Georgi Vins or these other people who are Christians in Russia, there’s a fellowship of believers that exists where you get counter information. So that would help you make that decision.
AUDIENCE: Right. Okay, now I see. So you support the right cause, you obey the ruler in the Lord anyway.
JOHN: That’s right.
AUDIENCE: Okay, now I understand.
JOHN: See now, I look at our own country and people have asked me the question, well, should the United States be in Lebanon? Well, I don’t have any problem with us being in Lebanon. I think Israel even entering into Lebanon, in spite of all the antagonism toward them, was freeing an oppressed people when they went in there. Of course they couldn’t ultimately keep the PLO out, because they just come in like grains of sand through a sieve, and of course it’s just going to keep going and going and going till Jesus comes. But people say, should we be in Lebanon? What is America doing there? America is doing there what they’ve always done. America sees an oppressed people and endeavors to keep peace. They blow us up. We don’t blow them up. People say, well, what about Grenada? Well, I see it as the same thing. You can either let the whole Caribbean fall to an oppressive totalitarianism or you can try to stand for what is right and just and fair. The little island of Grenada, which has – I don't know if you know – a wonderful Christian contingent on that island. My dear friend John Perkins from Mississippi whom I ministered with for over six years went down there constantly and evangelized that little island of Grenada. Well those people on that little island didn’t arm themselves to the teeth to fight the whole Caribbean. When they went in there and found all those weapons, you knew that it was a base for something bigger than that. And either you – it’s the old story, where do you stop the enemy? What do you do to protect the innocent people? So again, I think as a Christian, as a person in this country, I could have stood in those kind of situations and done my best for my country, because I knew I was standing against an evil aggressor, a murderous intent. But in a situation where I didn’t have that information, I have to trust the Lord and pray and seek his face. But there would surely be a network of believers who would have a perspective that would help me understand that.
AUDIENCE: Thank you.
AUDIENCE: Okay, I’m looking at Psalm 145 and verse 17. It says there, “The LORD is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His dead.” Okay? Then in verse 20 it says the wicked He will destroy. Does this mean that the destruction of the wicked is an act of kindness?
JOHN: It means that the destruction of the wicked, which is an act of God’s wrath is in perfect harmony and perfect balance with His kindness. When you have any discussion of the attributes of God, it doesn’t mean that all the attributes are comingled; it does mean they’re in perfect balance with each other. I don't know how else to explain it. You might even be so brash to say it’s very kind to send them to hell because that’s where they chose to go since they don’t chose God. Why sentence them to an eternity with one they have no desire to be with? There is a certain kindness even in that, but I think that’s pushing the point. I think when it says God is kind in one verse and God is – read Malachi 1 – or Nahum 1 rather. In Nahum 1 it’s the same thing. It talks about the Lord being furious and so forth and then it slows down and he’s slow to anger and he’s gentle and all this. And you ask yourself, well, how is this so? Well, those attributes while not comingled are in perfect balance – perfect balance. God never does anything unkind, unloving, unwise, but at the same time he judges men. So if in fact he sends men to hell, it still consistent with His kindness, because his kindness has to be consistent with his holiness, and his holiness therefore is manifest in his justice. So they’re all connected but not comingled. Does that help? Again, it’s a mystery. Any time you start talking about God’s character, that’s the best we can do with it. all right?
AUDIENCE: Thank you.
JOHN: Okay, one more.
AUDIENCE: My question is that – and it is not for me, it is for my friend. He says that in the antique Greek manuscripts they do not use the term cross. They use – and also in that time – that they used either a T cross or a hex cross. And that the antique manuscripts never use the term cross, only tree. And because of this he says that our Bible or the modern day Bible is not complete. Could you explain how the transition from tree to cross came about, or is that true? I don't know.
JOHN: No, biblical manuscript does refer to the cross. I mean, the biblical text does refer to the cross – many places. I’m thinking of Colossians 2:14, “Nailing it to his cross.” And that is the word for cross. Now as you go back into antiquity, you find that there were many different kinds of crosses and shapes of crosses and so forth. We don’t really have any way to affirm that Christ was put on a cross that looked like that. I mean, that’s the best we can do archeologically, but there were X crosses, there were T crosses. And you can – the study of the cross, you look through church history or perhaps seen books where it takes different shapes as it moves through history and so forth. But the Bible definitely uses the word cross. I don’t even understand why that’s a problem. Galatians 3 uses the term tree. Tree is a euphemism for cross, because it’s made out of wood.
AUDIENCE: The problem arises as to the validity of every word, and that is the discussion that we were having.
JOHN: Well, you should look at an original Greek text, they have Colossians 2:14, 2:11-14, see what the word is there, 2:10 and following, and see if you see the word cross there. See what the original Greek text says, and I think you’ll see that it’s the word cross. Okay. Great.
Well, very interesting questions tonight. I hope they were as interesting to you as they were to me. That’s great. We’ll have a word of prayer and let you go. Okay?
Thank You, Father, for the fellowship we’ve enjoyed tonight. Thank You for the wonderful privilege of being in Your Word and we’re so grateful for what You’re doing in our midst in our fellowship. Thank You for the love of Your Word that we see in the hearts of Your people. Help us, Lord, to understand the things we can’t understand and to trust You to the things that are beyond our understanding. And we pray that You’ll do Your work in every heart. We thank You in Christ’s name. Amen.
This article is also available and sold as a booklet.