It’s really great to have you all with us tonight. You know, Sunday, a great big, tall, good-looking young guy came up to me after the Sunday night service, he said, “I want to come up and just tell you that I’m sorry I won’t be there Wednesday night.” Well, most of the people in our church don’t feel the need to tell me when they can’t come on Wednesday night, to be honest with you. But I really appreciated that. He just said, “You know, I just want you to know that it’s important to me and I’m sorry I won’t be there.”
He went on to say that he’s a volleyball player at UCLA and they have a game tonight, and that was his reason for not coming. And I said, “On that basis, you are excused.” I don’t want to get in trouble with the volleyball coach at UCLA. But I really appreciate it when somebody has that kind of commitment to the fellowship, and that’s not always the case. And I’m very grateful that you’re here tonight.
I’m blessed. As I was in my study today, all day long in the Word of God. I spent about - oh, I don’t know, eight or nine hours uninterrupted, except for about a ten-minute break. And just coming out of there, I just again thanked the Lord for the privilege that I have to give myself constantly to the study of the Word of God. How enriching it is to me. I hope a little of that comes across to you in the ministry, but I know there’s no way that all the things that I enjoy in the blessedness of that you can enjoy, at least to the degree that I do. And I’m very grateful.
I don’t know why God’s been so good to me to give me that privilege and then to have you people give to the church to pay me to do that. But I hope in a little way we can give back to you some of the investment you’ve made in the time that I have to study the Word of God. But what a great privilege it is. I never cease to be thrilled. I never find myself growing uncomfortable doing it or saying, “Boy, do I have to go over this again?” Every new experience is a marvelous thrill.
In fact, I spent all day today with Peter, which is definitely an up-and-down kind of thing. I was going through the part for Sunday morning on his denial of the Lord. Three times, you remember, he denied the Lord. And just a soul-searching time because I see myself in Peter in the times when I fail to stand up for the Lord and what a terrible, terrible thing it is. You look at it from an objective viewpoint, looking at Peter, and you say, “How could that crummy guy ever do that,” you sort of turn around and say, “But you’ve done it, too.”
And so it’s been a wonderful experience, and I just thought I’d take a minute to say thank you to you for giving me the privilege to study and pastor and share the things I learn - if not all of them, I hope a helpful portion of them.
We’ll do that tonight. It’s question-and-answer time. I hope my answers match your questions. So what we want you to do is just come up to a microphone near and we’ll take the questions and do all we can to give you an answer. Yes - we’ll start in the middle, right here. I think Denny was the first one up there.
QUESTION: Thanks, John. I just want to say thanks to you for the question-and-answer nights, and I always look forward to them - as you well know. This is a question I’ve been saving since you were preaching in Matthew 17.
JOHN: Oh, brother.
QUESTION: So - it has to do with to what extent do you believe that cases of epilepsy and lunacy today are due to demon possession and would it be possible to cure these illnesses by casting out these demons through such as exorcism?
JOHN: No. I have to say this. I think, personally, from just understanding the New Testament record and knowing that demonic forces are powerful, strong - and the fact is we do wrestle against not flesh and blood but principalities and powers according to Ephesians 6. I think a lot more mental illness and a lot more aberrant and abnormal behavior can be attributed to demonic work than we ever imagined. I think a lot of it is functional disorder. A lot of it, such as epilepsy, can definitely be due to a physical problem rather than a spiritual problem.
But I think what can be diagnosed as epilepsy can usually be diagnosed as such by virtue of some physical things. Today we have sophisticated enough diagnostic techniques to do that. But I think there is behavior that might appear to be epileptic that definitely could be demonic.
And the answer to the question - do I feel that a lot of it could be eliminated by casting out demons? - I don’t believe necessarily today that the Lord calls us to cast out demons. I believe anyone who comes to Christ will be freed from that, and any Christian who is obedient to Christ will be freed from that. It’s not a question of having to go around and cast those out. That was a very unique ministry of Christ and the apostles in a sovereign way. Christ just spoke to demons and they left - and the apostles as well.
I think today we have no such ministry existing in the church but the promise, resist the devil and he’ll flee from you. And we come to Christ, greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world. So yes, I do believe that much of mental illness is a result of demonic and satanic activity, but it’s hard to just isolate it because it’s a result of sin, it’s a result of willful choices made by human beings, and it certainly involves Satan. And if we knew the truth, we would know that standard psychological answers don’t solve that problem.
I think we, basically, in our contemporary psychological approach to these problems have come to the fact that, you know, for the most part, psychology doesn’t help. And so if you have severe problems, what will happen - and I can tell you, I’ve been in mental institutions all around this area, calling on people and visiting people and so forth. Inevitably, what happens when a person goes in there is they don’t have any cure, they just give them medication to calm the symptoms. They can’t deal with the problems.
I just got an article the other day across my desk, which I’ve started to read, which basically talks about psychology and its inadequacy. There’s another new book called Psychological Seduction, written by the man who is the chairman of the psychology department at Boston College, I think it is, who is a very respected academician who says psychology as such, the whole business is bunk because it’s shown now that they can’t get to the problems just through psychological means. As a solution, it doesn’t really work.
So I think the reason it doesn’t work in many cases - sometimes it does, people just need guidance, but the reason it doesn’t work is because the forces there are greater than can be dealt with with just human information or human technique, and I think it is supernatural. But I think the answer is to come to Christ and then to live an obedient life. I don’t want to over simplify, but I think that’s it.
QUESTION: Can I ask one more quickie?
JOHN: One more.
QUESTION: I’ve been following the Bible science panel and they spoke of the age of the earth in different years. By analyzing the, you know, so-and-so begot so-and-so and all that, how old does the Bible say that the earth is?
JOHN: Well, one of the things we had passed down to us was what was known as Ussher’s dates. There’s a man named Ussher, U-S-S-H-E-R, and he did some calculations based upon the genealogies of Genesis, and many of those genealogies early in Genesis have time, you know, they tell us how old people were and so forth. He figured that all out and estimated, therefore, that everything sort of began in 4000 B.C. and it’s six thousand years old.
The problem with that is the genealogies are not necessarily comprehensive genealogies. In other words, it may say so-and-so was the son of so-and-so and skip three generations. In other words, he is a son - he’s really a great-grandson, so we can’t - we can’t isolate the chronological history of the world down to the specifics of the genealogies because there are definitely points at which the genealogies skip. But even with genealogical consideration, we wouldn’t be anywhere near beyond ten thousand years because, as I say, Ussher’s date came down to 4000 just using the genealogies, and if you expand them a little bit, it isn’t going to be much beyond that.
QUESTION: Okay, thanks a lot, John.
QUESTION: Can I ask you a real quickie?
JOHN: Everybody’s got a real quickie tonight.
QUESTION: I’m confused about something. A lot of Jewish apologists object to the fact that Isaiah 53 and verse 9 says that the suffering servant has done no violence, okay? And Sigal, in his book, brings this out. He says, “How can Jesus Christ be the Messiah? Because verse 9 specifically says He’d done no violence, yet He went into the temple and scourged the moneychangers, drove them out, you know. Obviously, there was violence. How do we answer that?
JOHN: Well, He did no violence in the sense that He committed no crime worthy of death. The only thing He did in the temple was what should have been done. That’s not violence. God does no violence, either. Violence indicates an unjust havoc, an unrighteous act of aggression or evil. What was done by the Lord in the temple was what should have been done. That was not violence. What was going on in there was violence. He put the violence out and brought it back to a place of prayer. He - it was unviolence.
So I think that’s an easy thing to point out. I think what the prophet is saying is that there was nothing that He had done that would make Him in any sense worthy of any execution. We find that - don’t we? - I don’t know if you’ve been with us on Sunday morning, but we’re going through the trial of Christ. There’s absolutely nothing. They can’t come up with anything. They didn’t even - and I didn’t point this out Sunday, but I should have - they didn’t even bring up that argument. So Sigal is one up on the Pharisees. They didn’t even bring that up.
They didn’t even make a case out of the fact that He did that in the temple as an act of violence because they knew that if they started talking about that, they were going to get it because everyone knew that it was just flat robbery, that the violence was their violence, and Jesus brought it back to where it ought to be. So they didn’t even bring that up, which they would have done if they thought there was a case there. Okay? Yes, sir.
QUESTION: Excuse me. Thank you. I have a young daughter who came home the other evening, you know, we sent her to Cheder, we’re Jewish, and - a synagogue. And I guess they taught her a little bit or enough. Anyway, we were eating our evening meal and she said to me, she said, “Daddy, why do we eat the animals?” So I gave her the best answer I could, I said, “Ask your mother.” Right, who went on to tell her, “Well, we don’t kill the animals.” But then she said, “Well, if I give you $5,000 to kill somebody, and you do it and we both get caught, I can’t tell the judge I didn’t do it because we’d both get the electric chair.”
So I didn’t know what to answer her, so I went out to the different churches. Now, I see 3,000 people three times a day leaving this church on Sunday, so I figure, since I’ve gone to the Catholic church and they told me, “Well, the reason that we eat the animals is because they don’t have a soul” - no, I’m sorry, that wasn’t the Catholic church, the Catholic church said, “The reason we eat the animals is because we’re smarter than they are. They don’t have the sense to run away.”
Well, I said, “Well, we’re smarter than mental retards, but I never heard of sweet and sour idiot or broiled moron or fried imbecile.” We don’t eat our mental retards, so that couldn’t be the answer. So then I went to the Christian churches, the different ones, Episcopalian - because I had to answer my daughter, she asked me a question. And the Christian church said, “Well, the animals don’t have a soul and we do.” Well, I know now in my own mind that anything that feels pain or craves affection has a soul because it’s the soul that does the craving or the feeling of the pain. You step on a dog’s foot, it yelps. It feels pain. What feels the pain? It’s the soul. Okay.
Then the Jews are going to tell you that it’s okay because it’s kosher. What makes it kosher? Because they say a prayer over it. What’s the prayer? God forgive me for killing this poor animal? You know, I don’t know - so I figure, well, I’m a computer analyst, so I put this in the computer, right? You put certain data in, it’s going to give you an answer. Well, I put in: Thou shalt not kill not animals or human beings, just thou shalt not murder. Actually, from the translation from my understanding, from Hebrew or Greek, to, you know, the translation was different from murder to kill, so it was thou shalt not murder.
JOHN: Right, that’s right.
QUESTION: Okay, so it didn’t go on to say thou shalt not murder a human being, just says thou shalt not murder, period. So when you put in thou shalt not murder on one hand and on the other hand eat a cheeseburger, it comes up error message.
QUESTION: So it doesn’t make any sense there. So I can’t tell this to my daughter. So I really didn’t know what to tell her other than it’s not because animals don’t have a soul, because they do. And it’s not because they don’t have a spirit, we’ve got a dog at home that has a lot of spirit. Jumps over a fence like you wouldn’t believe. So since they have souls and spirits and it’s not okay to eat them if you’re the one that doesn’t kill them because you’re as guilty as the butcher that does, then, my God, I don’t know.
So I went to the - I figure I’ll go to the Indian school, right? Now, they have a saying over there that says, “If it’ll run away, swim away, or fly away from you, don’t eat it. Because if you do, you’ll have to deal with the soul doler,” what they call. And I don’t know, I asked, “What’s this soul doler?” He said - they said that’s who doles the souls to the folds and the molds that hide in the holes. Right?
And so I said, “Well, geez, you mean everything has a soul?” They said, “Well, behind every pair of eyes there’s someone looking through them.” That’s what eyes are for, looking through. And I couldn’t disagree with that. So I guess everything has a pair of eyes is someone looking through them . . .
JOHN: How old is your daughter?
QUESTION: Very brilliant young lady. I hate to hear the questions she’s going to start asking me at eight.
JOHN: I was going to say, when she’s eight, you better do something.
QUESTION: I’m going to leave the house, yeah, leave the house.
JOHN: If my four-year-old daughter said to me, “Why do eat the animals?” I probably would have said, “Because they taste good.”
QUESTION: That’s a good answer.
JOHN: And leave it at that, you know. I probably - somebody said if your daughter asks you, you know, what time it is, don’t take your watch apart.
QUESTION: Yeah, well, I understood that my daughter wasn’t really asking why do we eat the animals, what she was really asking behind it - and then I just said that she would have asked me the next question because she is a brilliant little girl. She would have said, “What makes the life of a human being more important than that of an animal?”
JOHN: Sure. Let me give you an answer. First of all, you can’t trust your computer. The other day I read about a guy who was trying to translate the Bible from English into Russian using a computer. He put a Russian dictionary in and then he put the English Bible, in and he figured the computer would select the right Russian word. And he took the verse, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak,” and it came out, “The vodka is good but the meat is rotten.” So you really cannot trust a computer to interpret Scripture. Now -
QUESTION: Not to translate.
JOHN: Let me give you an answer from the Scripture, okay? And the answer is a very simple one, I believe. I believe that God - and this is indicated to us both in the Old Testament and the New Testament - created the animals for the purpose of food. In other words, that is their created intent. In the Old Testament, God outlined very clearly - and again, you’re back to the authority of Scripture. And I appreciate you coming to ask the question, I really do. But we believe that you’ve got to have a standard.
In other words, if all you do is try to dream up logical opinion about things, you’re going to have people who differ and you’re not going to know where the right answers are. So you accept a standard. And to us, the standard is the Word of God. We didn’t invent it. We have had it passed down to us. And when the Word of God says something, we believe it’s true. And the Scripture says, for example, in 1 Timothy, “All things are to be received with thanksgiving.” It says that some will come along and say don’t eat this and don’t eat that, but Scripture says all things are to be received with thanksgiving.
Now, in Acts chapter 10, there was a group of Jewish people who came to a Gentile, and Peter was in that group. He’d been raised kosher, he’d never eaten anything that wasn’t kosher, he was threatened by the thought of eating something that wasn’t kosher. And the Lord was making a transition, and so the Lord give him a vision of a sheet coming down and every kind of animal was in that sheet. And Peter said in his vision, “I can’t eat those things, I’ve never eaten anything unclean.” And the Lord said to him, “What I have called clean, don’t you call unclean.”
In other words, the Lord said it’s all now to be eaten and received with thanksgiving. So the best answer to the question is that Scripture says that God has given us those things for food to be enjoyed from Him.
Now, as far as an animal having a soul or a spirit, in a sense, as you use the terms, an animal has a soul if by soul you mean an internal sort of consciousness - not a self-consciousness - in other words, an animal doesn’t know that it’s an animal, it doesn’t know that it’s a dog, it doesn’t know its name, it has conditioned reflex, it is an outer and an inner creature. In other words, there’s a physical part and there’s an immaterial response part within an animal you could call a soul.
QUESTION: Like an uncovered nerve? Is that what you’re saying? It’s just . . .
JOHN: No, it’s more than a nerve. It’s not just a nerve. It is - let’s put it this way: An animal is neither self-conscious - that is, an animal doesn’t know it’s an animal or know its name or understand itself and neither is it God conscious. It cannot know God.
QUESTION: I have a dog at home that doesn’t know it’s unconscious. I mean it’s like conscious, it knows that it’s alive.
JOHN: It knows it’s - it doesn’t know it’s alive, it just is alive. Yeah. And it has the ability to be trained for certain impulses, like Pavlov proved, but an animal has no - has no God consciousness, an animal has no self-consciousness. I mean this could be -
QUESTION: - conscience, you mean, is that what I’m to understand?
QUESTION: It doesn’t have a conscience? There’s no shame?
JOHN: Right, doesn’t have a conscience. Has no sense of morality, no shame, that’s right. Right.
QUESTION: But when it gets hit by a car, it knows it’s alive, because . . .
JOHN: I don’t know that it knows it’s alive, but it feels the pain.
QUESTION: It runs away from the car, doesn’t want to get hit, so it must know that that’s a -
JOHN: Reflex, you know, reflex. So - but Scripture indicates to us - the bottom line is - I mean if you just look at the Scripture that an animal is made by God, animals were created by God for purpose and one of the purposes was food. Now, further, animals were not only created for food for people but, frankly, animals were created for food for animals. The whole system of the animal kingdom is a self-consuming system. Everybody has a predator, everybody has an enemy in that system.
QUESTION: Isn’t it interesting, though, that carnivorous animals don’t eat other carnivorous animals? You never see a lion eating another carnivorous animal. It’s always herbivorous animals that are being eaten by the carnivorous ones, lions eat sheep, you never see a sheep eating any type of carnivorous animal.
JOHN: Well, I don’t - yeah, I understand what you’re saying. Sure, sure. I don’t know that there might not be some exceptions to that. But as a general rule, that’s true. But anyway, the system is such that man is made in the image of God, and that means that man is self-conscious, man is God-conscious, and that is beyond any animal. It’s very distinctly in the creative pattern.
God created everything that He created and then He created man in His own image, with conscience, with a sense of right and wrong, with morality, with self-consciousness, God-consciousness, the ability to build relationships, a sense of shame, da-da-da-da-da-da. And that’s why man is a sacred being whereas an animal is a part of the whole system of the world, which depends for survival upon the consumption of that system.
QUESTION: Now, if I go home and I say this to my daughter and she says to me, “Well, Daddy, if we’re supposed to be so conscience and so aware of our conscience, our morality of shame and guilt and so on, so forth, then why, even though it’s allowed to - if God said, ‘Here’s a cow, you can eat it,’ right? Why, even though we know we can, would we go ahead and kill a poor, innocent animal who has done nothing wrong when there are plenty of bananas, fruits, whatever vegetables and so on and so forth.” They’re available to eat but why would we just go ahead and be the murderer, actually.
JOHN: Well, that’s not - the intention of murdering has to do with people, nothing to do with animals. In the first place, what you have to realize is all the animals are going to die anyway.
QUESTION: So are human beings, though.
JOHN: Right. But -
QUESTION: We don’t eat human beings.
JOHN: But a human being is protected by the laws of God. An animal is made for food.
QUESTION: That’s what - the question my daughter wants to know the answer to. Why?
JOHN: The answer I’m trying to give you is that the Bible says that all those things are to be received with thanksgiving. The only answer you need to give your daughter is, “That’s the way God designed the world to work.”
QUESTION: That’s all I have to say and she’s going to say okay? Right? Is that all - okay, thank you.
JOHN: Yeah, and that is the ultimate answer. I mean that’s the way God - I’ve said that to my kids a thousand times. That’s - I don’t know anything more than to say that’s the way God designed it to be, so enjoy your Big Mac, don’t worry about it. Okay. Thank you. Come back, by the way. We’d love to have you back.
QUESTION: Thanks, John. I go to Logos, and we were discussing 2 Thessalonians and we got into chapter 2 and discussing the rapture, concerning the rapture. And I’ve always been along the lines of a pre-trib rapture. And I got into chapter 2 there, and some things seem to contradict themselves. If you could just comment on what the apostasy is and what the day of the Lord is concerning - in chapter 2.
JOHN: Okay. Chapter 2, verse 1, of 2 Thessalonians, “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus and by our gathering together unto Him that you be not shaken in mind or troubled, neither by spirit, word, letter,” so forth and so on.
What was happening in the Thessalonian church was that some people were fearful that they has missed the rapture. They were afraid that they had already missed it. And so Paul is writing to inform them that that’s not happened. So verse 3 says, “Don’t let anybody deceive you. Don’t let anybody tell you you’ve missed the rapture.”
You haven’t missed, not only that, but the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The whole idea of that phrase in verse 1, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, may be a more comprehensive statement. But it certainly would include, I think, the rapture. But the whole idea - they were being told that everything was happened - had happened and they had been left out. So don’t let anybody deceive you.
That’s not going to happen until, first of all, there is an apostasy. “And the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God,” and so forth and so forth and so forth. So I just think what he’s saying there is the whole idea of the coming of Christ cannot come to fullness and fruition until these things take place. And they have not taken place.
QUESTION: Okay, what do you consider the apostasy? Is that a special event or is that just a progressive -
JOHN: It’s a falling - yeah, I think it’s a progressive falling away from the truth. It could be - you know, I’m not sure that I’m - that this particular point, really, in the first place, I don’t think it’s the rapture. Some people believe it’s the snatching away. They make it the rapture. I think it’s an apostatizing. Now the question is, is it an apostasy in the tribulation after the rapture, or is it an apostasy that begins before the tribulation, you know, and then . . .
QUESTION: Well, it would have to be after the rapture though - or before the rapture because . . .
JOHN: Well, yeah, and I think the answer to that is it is before because it says in verse 7, “The mystery of iniquity is already at work.” So the mystery of iniquity is already at work. The apostasy, in a sense, is already at work. The culmination of all of this is the coming of the Lord. Don’t think that’s happened because the rest of this stuff hasn’t even unfolded fully yet. The man of sin hasn’t been revealed, and so forth.
QUESTION: so then we’re going to see who the man of sin is?
JOHN: Not necessarily. He’s not saying you’ll see it, he’s just saying it hasn’t happened.
QUESTION: Well, will he be revealed to the world then?
JOHN: Sure, but not - not to us.
QUESTION: Why not to us?
JOHN: Because we won’t be here.
QUESTION: Well, it says that the man of lawlessness has to be revealed before it shall come in verse 3.
JOHN: That is the day of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. And in the day of the Lord - the day of the Lord is always associated with judgment. Okay? It is always associated with judgment. And what he is saying is that the judgment has not happened because this hasn’t happened. I’m just saying that - it’s not a question that sorts out the rapture here. I don’t see that you can sort that out. He’s just saying somebody may be telling you you’ve missed it all, whatever, part of it. I’m telling you the final end hasn’t come, the day of the Lord, the time of judgment he focuses on hasn’t come because the man of sin isn’t revealed and so forth and so forth and so on.
He’s not necessarily saying that you’re going to see that. He’s just saying it can’t have happened because this event has not taken place. Okay?
QUESTION: Okay, good. Thanks.
JOHN: And let me just say this - this question comes up a lot. Second Thessalonians is basically a book that needs great, intense study. It’s got some very unique features in trying to sort out all these factors. But in general, I believe that the pre-tribulation rapture is the only - is the only doctrine that makes any sense in Scripture. You can come to Scripture and you can shoot it down. I mean you can follow some of the people that have wanted to postulate a post-trib rapture, a mid-trib rapture, whatever.
That means that we’re going to be raptured at the end of the tribulation or in the middle rather than before. But the problem is, you can knock down the pre-trib theory by reinterpreting words and reinterpreting verses but you find it - I do anyway - almost impossible to build up a post-trib theory. It just doesn’t survive scrutiny.
So I really believe the church will be raptured first, then the tribulation, and then comes the Lord in judgment. And I think that’s all the writer here is saying, is that you didn’t miss that because before that happens, there has to be the falling away. And some people say that’s the rapture - the catching away - and they say apostasia means rapture. I don’t feel that way. I think it’s apostasy.
And then the man of sin who opposes and exalts himself and so forth, and it’s already working that way, verse 7 says. But then that wicked one will be revealed - and lying wonders, and da-da-da-da, and finally after that is going to come the day of the Lord. So I don’t think the rapture is even in the discussion, really. I think he’s just talking about the day of the Lord. Of course, before that will be the rapture. Okay? Good.
QUESTION: Acts 16:31, I have many friends of mine, I come from a Pentecostal background, and they use this Scripture to claim their family’s salvation. And I’ve read the scriptures myself and I don’t believe it. I believe that a man has to give an account to God for his own salvation. And it says here, “And they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.’” And I think people should deal with this with other Christians and let them know that that’s not so.
JOHN: Yeah, the verse, of course, it’s the apostle Paul and he was in jail. And the earthquake came and the jail doors were thrown open and all the stocks and chains were broken and everybody started to leave, and the jailer knew he’d lose his life and all this. And, you know, he was going to kill himself and Paul stops him and says, “Don’t harm yourself.” And the guy must have known that Paul was an evangelist. He must have known the message he preached because he comes in and he says, “Sir, what must I do to be saved?”
What must I do to be saved? And what is his answer? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved and thy house.” And what these people are saying is that if you believe, that means salvation for your whole house. There’s several problems with that. The man says, “What must I do to be saved?” And he said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” And then he says, “And thy house the same.”
In other words, what does everybody in his house have to do? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. The construction there forbids that, that it mean anything else. He doesn’t say believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou and thy house shall be saved. Thou shalt be saved, and the offer is extended to thy house.
And by the way, that thing doesn’t hold water anyway because the term here for house involved everything that was in his house, family members, servants and everything, and the people who advocate family salvation out of that verse don’t necessarily want to extend it to the mailman, the gardener, or anybody else who works for them. So no, obviously, even back in the Old Testament, very clearly God identifies individual salvation. And the same thing is all the way through the New Testament.
And when people will take one little verse like this and build a doctrine of family salvation on it, you know, it’s completely imposed on the text rather than in the text. And I’m glad you pointed that out because a lot of people are claiming that. And that’s - you can’t claim that. Your house can be saved the same way you can. What he’s saying to the jailer is, “I’m telling you you must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you’ll be saved, and it’s the same for anybody else.” In other words, this isn’t something special just for you, this is available for anybody in your house.
QUESTION: Thank you, John.
JOHN: And it says they spoke the Word of the Lord - here’s the key - I didn’t finish yet - so listen. Verse 32, “And they spoke unto him the Word of the Lord.” They didn’t just speak to him but it says, “And they spoke to him the Word of the Lord and to all that were in his house.” Why? Because everybody else, if they were going to be saved, had to hear the same message and believe the same message. Otherwise, they could have just spoken it to him and let it go if everybody was saved on his salvation.
“And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes and was baptized, he and all his. And when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them” - listen to this - “and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.” Did you get that? What does that mean? That everybody in the house what? Believed. Yeah, it’s very clear.
I mean I tell you, it just boils my blood when people take verses out of the middle of nowhere and just build theology around them, when all you have to do is keep reading. You know, there’s something - I don’t know what it is in the human mind that makes people want to come up with their own little doctrines. I can’t imagine anything worse than misinterpreting the Scripture. Inside of myself, I would rather die than do that. I just wouldn’t want to do that.
Truth is the most sacred thing we possess, isn’t it? And I just - boy, that’s why I’m a believer in good training so that you can handle the scriptures accurately. I mean this is not somebody’s ideas you’re throwing around, this is the Word of the living God. I mean you better get it right.
QUESTION: John, I want to thank you for the things that we’ve all been learning about our response to the government. And my question - I understand what you’re saying, how we need to back our government, even though it’s not the best government, even though it’s not a Christian government, there is no Christian government, only Christian people, and I also understand when you say that we shouldn’t be into full-time political - even Christian political activism, even though there are some people who are employed, Christians employed, full time in politics.
But now, my question is: What about people who are interested in some of the political things that are happening, say, the gay rights bill or right now there’s a bill open for public comment on rights for newborn children who have some physical deformity and they’re allowing them to die and it’s - and so that’s open for public comment. And I’m wondering, what is our responsibility to the government to let our legislators know how we feel?
JOHN: I think - and I think I may have said this, maybe not clearly enough, but you see, I believe we need to take every means available to us as citizens to effect change in our country legally. And every time you have an opportunity to do that, you need to do that. As a conscientious Christian, if there’s any way that you can legally protest against abortion - I saw in the Daily News today that Tom Bradley says now he’s going to appoint more gays. He’s going to be giving more gay appointments, he’s sorry that he’s overlooked the homosexuals.
Well, I mean that’s sickening to me, you know, and I’m sure it is to all Christian people. But I don’t - what I’m - I’m not going to go down and shoot Tom Bradley, but if I am - if there’s a forum where I can say what needs to be said and - then I want to say that. If there’s a letter that I can write, then I need to write that letter. If there’s a vote that I can make, then I need to make that vote. And if the Lord called me to be involved in government or in civil service as a policeman or as a county prosecutor or district attorney or a - I don’t know what, you know, working even as a legislator or something, I don’t see anything wrong with that.
The thing that concerns me is the illusion that Christians, banding together, using political means can bring the kingdom or expedite the kingdom. I think what we have to do - and what happens is, when Christians - they start out with good intentions to be involved in moral issues, and I’m not against that. I think Christians ought to stand up against abortion and gay rights and the ERA and a lot of other things. I really believe that we ought to take our stand on those issues. But somehow what happens is, in the midst of wanting to take the right and legal means to take a stand and preach and proclaim against sin, we get diverted into the illusion that we can change our country by effecting changes in the political system.
And I think that - I mean we want to vote, we want to vote together on some things. We ought to know, for example, who are the legislators in the state of California who are pro-abortion, and we ought to let them know where we stand.
It’s a fine line, and I know in my own case, if I feel like I need to write a letter to a senator, I write a letter. If I feel like I don’t care to do that, I don’t do that. But I want to use every legal means, every means within in my power. I want to teach and preach here so that it’s very clear what we believe and we make a statement and we teach our people what they’re - what their stand should be in the world.
But what bothers me is when I know many pastors who have literally abandoned the church and abandoned the pulpit and abandoned studying the Scripture, abandoned teaching the Bible, to run around and get themselves associated with the Mormons and the Moonies and all these co-belligerents to gain certain religious freedom.
You know, to me it’s what - to paraphrase, like Sam Ericsson does, what shall it profit the church if we gain our freedom and lose our message? I mean what’s the point? So we just have to be sure we’re clear on what our message is. And it - what I’m saying, too, is that because my government isn’t all it ought to be doesn’t mean that I can shoot people in my government or that I can be an unruly citizen, disobey the law, not pay my taxes, so forth and so on. I’d take all the legal means. Does that help?
QUESTION: Yeah, it does.
QUESTION: And thanks.
JOHN: Okay, good.
QUESTION: I, too, appreciate last Sunday night’s message, the Christian’s relationship to government, John, and my question is directly related to that. How do you feel about a march? Christians are marching. I saw Frankie Schaeffer leading, I believe, an anti-abortion march and - and let’s just say that it was done legally, it was done - people conducted themselves the way they should, and it was not done under the auspices of a local church name, it was concerned citizens. I’d like your thoughts on that.
JOHN: Yeah, I don’t have a problem with that. If it’s done right and it’s done in a proper way and it’s not a rabble. You know, people do it for one reason, they do it to get on television. That’s basically it. Or to get the people on Capitol Hill to see them doing it so that they know there’s a large constituency there.
I think if it’s done properly and done respectfully and shows due respect to the people involved, I don’t have a problem with that. But when the crowd is stirred up, you know, to think evil against the legislators or when it becomes a rebellious thing and it’s fomenting and they’re saying ugly things about our nation or about people in positions of leadership, then I have a problem with that. But I think if it’s done right - as a citizen, if you have - if you want to express yourself that way, that’s great.
The thing that concerns me is when I see men of God who’ve been called to the teaching of the Word and the preaching of the Word abandoning themselves to all these kinds of things. I will be very candid with you. I really feel that in - this is a personal feeling - in the last few years of Francis Schaeffer’s life, the tremendous capability that he had demonstrated to help the church get on track apologetically got totally lost, and he was so busy marching here and marching there all over the place that those last years before he went to heaven were not as productive, in my mind, in terms of theology and apologetics as the prior years had been.
And that’s only a value judgment on my part. I’m not - you know, I’m not certainly second-guessing what he did in his life. But as I look at his life and realize that it seemed in those last years that he was so concerned about marching and protesting and doing this and doing that, that it diverted those energies away from the Word and away from that great contribution that - at least that I felt he made in the earlier years.
So it’s a question of priority. I think it’s fine to have a part in that. Certainly if there was an anti-abortion protest in the state and everybody wrote letters and so forth and so on, I mean I would want to be a part of that. I mean I wouldn’t even resist, you know, marching and showing where I stood on that if it was done right. But I would not divert the energies and the time and the calling of God in my life to do that because I feel the strength is in, you know, carrying out the ministry of the Word.
QUESTION: Yes, John, my question regarded how we as Christians are to view the new wave of science creating life, as they want to call it, in the laboratory, the test tube babies, the sperm banks?
We had also seen a documentary on channel 28 regarding actually creating a womb-like environment in a laboratory so that they could actually watch the development. And we just had our second gift from the Lord two weeks ago and we had it by the means that God provided. And He does say in Psalm 139, “Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb,” and how do we associate that with our -
JOHN: Well, I suppose everybody’s got to draw the line somewhere. I don’t know how to answer the question, it’s such a broad question, except to say any time you do anything other than the normal God-intended means, I get nervous. Okay? There are some things that seem to me to be just really beyond acceptance, like taking a conceived embryo and planting it in another person. I mean I know they’re involved in doing some of that kind of stuff.
You know, you can go back to the bottom line thing and say if the Lord meant you to have a baby, you’ll have a baby. You don’t need to go through all of that. On the other hand, if you can’t have a baby, you can certainly adopt a baby. That’s the pretty much traditional view. That’s - I feel very comfortable with that view. At the same time, I know there are couples that go see infertility specialists. In fact, we have medical doctors in our church who are OB/GYN and infertility specialists, and they do provide some kind of service to folks to let them know what their alternatives are.
I don’t think it’s that they’re advocating any of this stuff, but there are ways you can assist a couple. And somebody can say, “Well, if God wanted you to have a baby, you’d have a baby, so don’t go to the doctor.” But if you push that too far, you know, you’re going to be holding onto a tree in the backyard with a leaf, you know, dropping your baby on it. I mean that’s a jungle approach. You know, we do want some help. And so we go to a hospital, and if we can’t have a baby normally, we don’t say, “Well, if God didn’t want me to have the baby, leave it alone.” We say, “No, I’ll take a caesarean, I mean just get the baby.”
So we’re grateful for medical advances. It becomes a very difficult thing, then, to know exactly where you draw the line. But I think as long - I think when you get outside the couple itself, that’s where I have a problem. Either physically outside of them or relationally. In other words, where you impregnate a woman with somebody else’s sperm other than her husband or where you have some kind of a surrogate mother situation, which is done all the time, of course, in breeding horses and things like that. Any time you get outside of working with those two people that God brought together for the production of that child, I think you’ve got a real ethical problem.
And it’s going to get - it’s going to get, you know, more bizarre all the time. You see, what - Crick and those guys sort of set the stage for this, but what they’re after is generic engineering. And we’re already a long way down the line. Abortion is one step toward generic engineering. Abortion basically says we now have developed the right to murder anybody we don’t want to be born. Okay? The more sophisticated our pre- natal technology becomes, the more able we are to determine the character and quality of the infant that’s there.
All right, if they can - if they can grow a baby in an artificial womb and chart the course of that baby and monitor that thing, they’ll develop the technique to determine its physical skills, its mental skills or whatever, they’ll figure out ways to do that, and then pretty soon it’ll be a question of who gets to live and who doesn’t get to live. And then comes breeding and so forth and so on.
I really believe with all my heart, and some of these things that I say might sound frightening, and I think they are - I really believe that there are people who want to engineer the human race, the humanists. You see, they want to eliminate crime and they want to eliminate all the problems in society, they want to eliminate the drones on society, the welfare cases, the people who just eat up the resources of society and are problems, so forth and so on. The way to do that is to control birth, first of all.
So first, what did we have? We had a big wave of birth control, birth control, all the scare tactics in the world, right? We have too many people, too many people. I don’t know if you know this, the entire population of the world fit into the state of Rhode Island - the whole world, okay? But anyway, we’ve all been scared out of our wits about having too many babies. Okay? They did that for a long time.
The next step was we’ll start to kill the babies, and we’ll do it under the guise of a woman has a right to her own body - which isn’t the case at all. It’s just murder, plain and simple. And, of course, it was basically generated by some Jewish lesbian women, the whole thing. And it’s all part of a much bigger conspiracy than we understand. And I think it - you look behind the scenes and you will find that there are many people who are antagonistic to Christ behind the scenes and it’s really something. I could talk about that sometime.
But anyway, so step by step by step, then you come to the abortion thing, and pretty soon there’s a tolerance for some abortions, and now it’s just anybody, any place, any time can get an abortion. And it’s become a method of birth control. And so the next thing in the engineering process will be to determine how the fetus develops and then we’ll find out what fetuses we want and what ones we don’t want. And then as - if we can plant sperm in anybody we want, then we’ll start to do that.
And it’s all part of ultimately taking us to the point of engineering all of this stuff. It’s really frightening. That’s an attack on God and His sovereignty and so forth. And so I think any time you go beyond a couple that God brought together and try to create a life, you really got yourself into a serious biblical and ethical problem.
QUESTION: Hi, John, my question is in 1 Corinthians, when they talk about women are supposed to have something on their head when they’re praying or whatever, why doesn’t that pertain to today? And also, people are always asking me, why are some of us blessed and there’s little children dying in Africa and starving to death? You’ve heard the question before, right?
JOHN: Yeah. Well, those are good questions. Let me take the second one first. God is sovereign. I’ve always felt that more - the more non-Christian the nation is, the higher the mortality rate will be because Christians have the highest respect for life there is.
Look at our nation. The more we become non-Christian, the more we become humanistic, the easier it is for us to massacre infants by the millions. And you take a pagan country or Africa or whatever, India, you’ll find in those countries, there’s a low regard for life, a very low regard for life. It isn’t just as simple always as famine and so forth, it has to do with the whole regard for life. Unless you understand that people are created in the image of God, they’re nothing more than what this man was asking earlier, it’s animal life. So I think that that happens because there’s a low regard of life.
The flipside of that is that I believe God, in His mercy and grace, sees the reality of redemption in that for a people who in many cases would never otherwise be redeemed. If those nations that are the most unchristian have the most - have the highest mortality rate, which is to say that those little ones are taken safely into the arms of God before they can come to the point in their own nation where they will be unbelievers. So I think that that’s part of the answer.
The ultimate answer is God is God. And God has designed the world the way He’s designed it. Sin is running its course. God has offered redemption to all men. But evil has a place and God, for the sake of His own glory and the sake of His own revelation of judgment and wrath against sin, permits sin and its consequences and so it’s a sovereign issue.
QUESTION: Aren’t we also responsible for helping to feed these people?
JOHN: Oh, there’s no question, the Scripture makes it very plain that we are to share what we have, to reach out to the poor and the hungry. I mean you read the Old Testament, that’s just over and over and over and over again repeated as well as in the New in some places, too.
Now, in regard to 1 Corinthians chapter 11, about a woman having her hair or her head covered, what Paul is referring to there was in the Corinthian time, there were distinctive ways in which a woman demonstrated her submissiveness. And a woman demonstrated her submissiveness with her hair, the covering of her hair. And women had long hair. He says doesn’t nature even tell you itself that if a woman had long hair, it’s a glory unto her? But in those days, the women wore a covering. And the covering was the symbol of their submissiveness.
And the women, of course, in the Corinthian thing were going through a sort of an ERA equal rights movement, and they were throwing off their covering and shearing off their head. And Carcopino, in his book on Daily Life in Ancient Rome, says they were running around bare-breasted with spears, sticking pigs and climbing poles and, I mean women’s lib isn’t anything new, they were doing it then, too - trying to be macho, wanting to get equality with men.
So Paul is saying to them, “Look, you want to be sure that in your society, if a covering is a symbol of submissiveness, you keep your covering on because you want to demonstrate your womanliness and your submissiveness by God’s design. And then he just supports that by saying, “Can’t you see that God’s designed a woman’s hair to be unique to a woman?” And, of course, the argument scientifically is that a woman’s hair grows faster than a man’s hair does, demonstrating that God’s intention for a woman is uniquely her hair.
I think that says to us today that a woman should do - I’m not saying - some of you are going, “Oh, boy, I hope my hair is long enough.” I’m not saying that. What I am saying is that a woman’s hair should be distinctly feminine. And a woman’s demeanor, distinctly feminine. And whatever it is in our culture that demonstrates femininity and a woman’s unique God-intended role is how a woman ought to look.
QUESTION: Good evening, John. I’ve been studying John chapter 17 and I was listening to your tapes this week. One thing that, you know, I praise God that I’m saved and that I know Christ, and one thing that came out in the tapes was the fact that our names are already written in the book of life. And I guess my question is, is that like predestination? And I’m sure you’ve answered this question before and it’s probably on a tape, and I just haven’t found the tape yet.
JOHN: Yeah, sure, that’s exactly like predestination. And I have answered this question before. And I don’t hesitate to answer it again because I think there’s an answer that’ll help you. Everybody who believes the Bible believes in predestination. If you don’t, you’ll have to tear out some verses. We were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, that’s as clear as it can be.
Our names were written in the Lamb’s book of life from before the foundation of the world, says that a couple of times in the book of Revelation. Predestinated, chosen, preordained, all that is there. In other words, every person who ever comes to Christ in the history of the world comes to Christ because before the world began, God chose them for redemption. That’s clear in Scripture. Okay. So we believe that.
The problem doesn’t come in believing that, the problem comes in harmonizing that with the call to respond to Christ and human responsibility. In other words, if we say, “Oh, well, since God does it all, I’m not going to worry about it. If He wants to save me, let Him save me. I’m certainly not going to get uptight. We don’t need to preach the gospel. We don’t need to tell anything to anybody, it’s all done, if you’re name’s there, you’re in, if it’s not, so what? What’s the point? Why should I evangelize? The people whose names are there are going to come, the people who aren’t, aren’t, so I’m not going to worry about it.”
The problem with that is the Bible also teaches that whoever comes to Christ, He will receive. And Jesus said, “You will not come to me that you might have life. But if you come to me, I’ll give you life.” And when they didn’t come, He said it was their fault. So the problem is - I believe the Bible teaches predestination, everybody who’s saved is saved because they were written down before the world began. I also believe it teaches you have to come to Christ and if you don’t, it’s your fault and you’re responsible and you’ll go to hell because you have chosen against Christ.
Now, how do you harmonize that? That’s impossible. That’s the problem. So you don’t. You just believe both of them. You say, “But how can you believe two things that are mutually contradictory?” Easy. There are a lot of things in the Bible that are mutually contradictory or that are absolutely paradoxical on our level. And to illustrate it to you very simply, who wrote Matthew? That’s not a hard question, is it? Who wrote Matthew?
JOHN: Matthew, all by himself, sat down and wrote Matthew?
QUESTION: And the Holy Spirit.
JOHN: And the Holy Spirit - they alternated verses? You write one, I’ll write one, you write one, I’ll write one? Is every word in Matthew out of the mind of the Spirit of God? Is every word in Matthew also out of the heart of Matthew? How can it be all Matthew and all the Holy Spirit? That’s two hundred percent, that’s impossible, but that’s exactly what it is.
Ask yourself this question, was Jesus God or man? The answer is yes. A hundred percent God, a hundred percent man, or half God, half man? Half a man is nobody, and half God is nobody. He was all God, all man. That’s impossible, too, that’s an irresolvable apparent paradox.
Ask you this question: Who lives your Christian life? You say, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, Christ lives” - same thing, see. Any time you bring the supernatural level down to this, you’re going to get a little bit of paradox left. And the wonderful thing about it is it’s one of the greatest proofs that this is written by God because if it was written by men, they’d resolve those paradoxes because men don’t like them.
JOHN: And so the fact that you have those kinds of things tells us that God’s mind is greater than ours, and that’s the kind of God I want. I don’t want a God that thinks like I do, or we’re in trouble. So when it comes to predestination and man’s volition, when it comes to God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, we say the Bible teaches both of them. God’s the only one who can understand how they come together. That’s His problem, not ours.
All I know is that I am saved and I give Him the praise, but when people aren’t saved, I lay the responsibility at their feet to come to Christ. And I cannot say I don’t need to do anything because the Bible commands me to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Okay?
JOHN: All right. Let’s see - we’ll go over here. We better not take any more folks, we’ll just finish with these and then we’ll be done.
QUESTION: Good evening, John. Sunday night on the Christian’s responsibility to government, you used the example of the early church as a standard for the Christian community these days. Well, about the tenth observation made by historians in that day was that the early church was indifferent to the world’s temporal materialism and political systems. Now, my question is: How does the Saltshaker stand in relation to the example set by the early church, which was, basically, they segregated themselves from government?
JOHN: Right. That’s a good question. We have a little Saltshaker that comes out each month and we’re back to this same idea.
The only thing you’ll find in the Saltshaker are issues related to biblical truth and morality. In other words, sin as over against righteousness. We’re not going to - we’re not going to put in there issues about whether they ought to pave Roscoe Boulevard, write your congressman. Or whether they ought to allow certain laws to pass related to schools or education or budget or zoning. In other words, what we’re dealing with is moral issues when we feel there is due process by which we can articulate the Christian perspective.
Now, in the last couple of days, Sam Ericsson has been here. I was talking to Sam about how he fits because, you see, he’s the head of the Christian Legal Society, which basically is a group that functions in Washington, a group of Christian lawyers who go into the courts and lobby for the Christian viewpoint. And again, what they’re doing is taking due process of law in an honorable and reasonable way, demonstrating Christian character and Christian testimony, and articulating a Christian viewpoint on these issues. Now, that’s very vital, and that’s what we’re asking people to do in the Saltshaker.
That’s not political. That’s - that’s taking a voice in moral issues that face our nation and giving the Christian perspective. The editor of the L.A. Times one time said to me with - he was coming here and he said - the owner, he said, “You - why don’t you ever use the platform there to get on the bandwagon for some of these really important political issues?” And I said, “Because the only thing I want to talk about is what God talks about. Everybody’s got their opinion. I think God has a right to be heard in the midst of all of this. And all we want to do is articulate the biblical view.”
And it’s key for us to have Christian lawyers who will go into a courtroom, for example, when a debate is going on and give a biblical viewpoint to an issue that is confronting the nation. Right now the Christian Legal Society has three cases before the Supreme Court of the United States in which they articulate the biblical view. But they do so with a great sense of graciousness.
Let me give you an illustration. They put out a magazine, Christian Legal Society, and in it was an ad for - attorney wanted by some law firm, it said a Christian attorney, Christian legal firm would like to hire a Christian attorney, da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da. And the Jewish - one of the Jewish groups - which, by the way, are behind a whole lot of this stuff because there is that ancient antagonism to Christianity, and we understand that, we love them anyway, but we understand there’s an antagonism there.
But - so this group called up the Christian Legal Society and said, “How dare you? It’s unethical for you to put a Christian lawyer in there. That’s discrimination,” so forth, so forth, so forth. So the Christian Legal Society called them back in the next day or so, and Sam said - and he said, “I just want you to know that we want to be sensitive to you. We don’t want to be a discredit to the legal profession. And if that is an offense to you in our magazine, we won’t put that there anymore.” And he said the girl was an attorney who listened to him in the Washington office, broke into tears that anyone would be that conscientious.
Doesn’t matter to them because their magazine only goes to Christian attorneys, so they know what they’re saying. But rather than make war, they would seek to make peace and express themselves in a gentle way. But when it comes to standing for truth, they need to be there to speak. And so what happens is they treat those people with kindness on that level, but when they get into the courtroom and those people are crying for the humanist viewpoint, they say this is what we believe is right based on the Scripture and the tradition that’s been established by Christianity and so forth.
So it’s a question of morality as over against just partisan politics and views on things that aren’t moral issues. Okay? That’s a long answer to a short question. We’ll hurry real fast. We have about five or six minutes, so -
QUESTION: Okay, I’ll try to make this fast. I’m looking for your inner interpretation of Hebrews 10:26 in context with the passage, it says that, “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” In desiring to use the Word of the Lord accurately, I’ve often used this passage in sharing with people who would consider themselves Christians and desire to continue to live with their girlfriends or Christians who justify getting divorces.
JOHN: Yeah, I think it’s a non-Christian it’s talking about. I think it’s talking about a person intellectually convinced of the gospel who knows it but goes on living in sin, willfully already knowing the truth, and if he rejects the sacrifice of Christ, there’s no hope. I think it’s basically another one of the warning passages that are all through the epistle of the Hebrews.
Those warning passages are directed at people who are intellectually convinced of the truth of the gospel but will not separate themselves from sin and come to Christ. And the warning there is if you keep on doing that, you’re really treading underfoot the blood of the covenant and counting it an unholy thing.
In other words, you’re trampling the blood of Christ, you’re ignoring that. And there is no other sacrifice for sin. So I think it’s a message to an intellectually convinced unbeliever who won’t break with his sin. Now, you may be giving it to the right people. They may say they’re Christians, but if they continue in a protracted state of sinfulness, there’s a good chance that that might be their case.
QUESTION: Do you know of, let’s say, what could be a better approach to someone who is a Christian, at least from God’s perspective, when somebody is continuing to sin because they’re really no longer . . .
JOHN: Romans 6.
QUESTION: Romans 6.
JOHN: “Shall we sin that grace may abound? God forbid. If you died with Christ and risen, then you better walk in newness of life and mortify the deeds of the flesh. So shall you live.”
I’d hit Romans 6. And then Romans 7, the cry of Paul, “Wretched man that I am who wants to deliver - see himself delivered from that kind of thing.” Yeah. But Romans 6 is the - I mean thank - he says, “You were the servants of sin but now you’ve become the servants of righteousness.” If you’re not a servant of righteousness, either you’re not saved or you’re contradicting everything your salvation means.
QUESTION: I have a family member that a couple of years ago was taken in by the Mormons. She had a very bad experience in her life. And she - my grandmother recently who lived up there died and they had converted her, she was very senile so I know - I have no doubt in my mind where she went. She didn’t know what she was doing. But I know that they probably went through the baptism of the dead.
Now, she quoted to me some time back 1 Corinthians 15:29. And I’ve looked at that and tried to study it and figure out what are they saying because she said it says right in the Bible that you baptize for the dead, but yet Scofield says down below in the footnote that they’re not talking about that. But I have trouble understanding -
JOHN: Well, that verse just says - Paul is saying, “Why are people baptizing for the dead if there’s no resurrection?” And we’re saying, “What in the world does he mean by that?” Right? What is the baptism for the dead? It isn’t even important what he means to us. People then knew what he meant.
There was some pagan cult at that time that was doing baptisms for the dead. Today it would be the Mormons. But all Paul is trying to say is, he’s trying to prove the validity of resurrection in general. In other words, the whole chapter is to prove there’s a resurrection. And all he’s saying is even the pagans understand that there’s a resurrection, else why would they be baptizing for the dead? Do you understand?
JOHN: In other words, he’s only using what we would call a natural argument, rather than a supernatural one. Like we say, for example, like the old story of immortality that’s told about the little blind boy that was sitting on the top of a hill and he had a kite. And the kite was pulling against the wind and somebody said to him, “Can you see the kite?” And he said, “Oh, no, sir.” And he said, “Well, how do you know it’s in the air?” He said, “Well, I feel the tug of the string that I hold in my hand.” And the old adage was, and that’s the way it is with immortality.
Even pagan people feel the tug of immortality that there’s life after death. That’s why Indians buried ponies with the dead braves. That’s why people in Greece put a coin in the mouth of a dead body so that he could pay his fare across the mystic river of death. That’s why they put a canoe in a Pharaoh’s pyramid, so that he could go down the river of life in his canoe.
In other words, there’s something in the human heart that longs for immortality. And Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 15, “If there’s no resurrection, then why are these people baptizing for the dead?” Even the pagans feel the pull of immorality.
QUESTION: Thank you.
JOHN: And, of course, it was in error and it still is with the Mormons that do it.
QUESTION: John, all of us started with Adam and we’re all descendants of Adam. And yet there are many different races around the world. And my question has to do with the origin of different races and also language. I think language was at the tower of Babel, that God dispersed different languages. Did everybody speak the same language up to that time? And -
JOHN: The whole earth was one language, it says that in Genesis 11.
QUESTION: And is that true with races, also?
JOHN: Yeah, I think basically once they were scattered and scattered all over the earth, then, of course, various ethnic groups began to develop. But you have to go even back before that in Genesis chapter 9, where the Lord took the three sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, Japheth, and I can just quickly refresh your thinking on that, I think. Genesis, just a brief answer, 9:24, 9:25, and he said, “Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be to his brethren. Blessed be the Lord God of Shem, Canaan shall be his servant. God will enlarge Japheth, he will dwell in the tents of Shem.”
Took the three sons. Canaan would be a servile people. Shem would be the blessed people, the Semitic people out of which comes the Arabs and the Jews and so forth. And Japheth would be the colonizing people who would enlarge, mostly going into Europe. And so here, even from the sons of Noah, God begins to separate out the races.
Now, as to how it is that they took on physically distinct characteristics, that was because that’s the way the Lord began to create them, and the tower of Babel only contributed to that. As they were scattered in different places, there’s a certain amount of adaptability. Black people are black because they came from a place where they needed that as opposed to Scandinavian people, very, very white, you know, and so forth. So the Lord, in the process of the development of the races, you know, allowed them to adjust and adapt to that particular thing.
Frankly, some of it, there are no answers to except that God in His sovereignty designed it that way. But you go back to Genesis 9 with God sorting out the three sons and separating them apart, and then Genesis 11 where He scatters them all over the world, and they begin to identify themselves as unique ethnic groups with their own language and develop their own characteristics. Okay?
QUESTION: Good evening, John. First of all, I have an example that may be a good way to look at predestiny versus free will. That is that very likely or possibly, I shouldn’t say even likely, that the Lord gave Satan all the pieces to the chess game.
In other words, every individual, as we’re born, we’re born in Satan’s camp. And that the Lord then said, “Satan, look I’m going to show you the names in this book that I have here, and these names, I’m going to call at a given time. And because of the power of my love and only the power of my love, when I call their name, they will come to me out of their love and there won’t be anything you can do to stop them.” That gives a possible -
JOHN: I think that - well, I think I understand what you’re saying. I’m not sure Satan - I’m not sure God gives him any information. But I understand what you’re saying. Sure, there - we’re all there bound by Satan, but when He draws us, it is - this is what the old theologians called irresistible grace. That is, when the Lord sets out to save you, He will save you.
QUESTION: Yeah, just out of the power of His love.
JOHN: That’s right, the power of His drawing, sovereign love. That’s right.
QUESTION: Now I’ve got two questions, two of them that have been with me for a quite a while. First of all, I have a brother-in-law who is involved with a church somewhat on the cultic side, I believe. He’s given me a couple of verses that he - their group believes that the tribulation occurred in 70 A.D. and that this generation in Matthew 24, verse 36, genea alto as he puts it, means this generation. And that the word millennium does not necessarily mean a thousand years.
JOHN: Well, it does mean a thousand years, but he’s reinterpreting it.
QUESTION: Okay, well, can you give me something to say to him that would turn it back around? Also he’s a real stickler about the genea alto thing.
JOHN: Yeah, I would say to him, “Expose yourself to some other material,” you know. “If you really want to know the truth, don’t get locked into that situation. Be willing to study some other sides of that.” Obviously, he’s in the wrong place and he doesn’t have the wherewithal to make the decision himself, so he becomes a victim of whoever teaches him.
But - I mean there’s nothing you could say about an isolated thing like that. You’d have to take the guy back and teach him hermeneutics. In other words, you got to learn how to interpret the Bible. This is back to where we started tonight. If you don’t know the principles to interpret Scripture, it’s for sure you’re going to come up with the wrong answer. It’s for sure, it’s a guarantee, if you don’t know what you’re doing.
And it’s amazing, you couldn’t fly an airplane with training, and you couldn’t operate on somebody without training, and you couldn’t run a computer system without training, and you couldn’t do a lot of things without training, but people think they can pick up the Bible and tell you everything it means off the top of their head. And if they’ve got any personality or any charm or any dynamics, they can get a bunch of people to follow them.
It’s the old story in California. Grow a beard, say you’re Moses, you’ll have fifty followers in a half an hour. And you can build your own little kingdom and you can just keep unloading on them. And as long as you keep them happy and they think they’re really into the deep stuff, you got them.
But, again, it’s tragic that people don’t know how to interpret Scripture. And the best thing you can say to someone like that is, “You need to expose yourself to some alternatives.” Read some things. Give him some good things to read. Let him listen to tapes that we’ve preached on that or someone else has. Say, “If you’re really - if you’re really objective and really want to know the truth, listen to this.” Find out if he’s open. If he’s not open, you’re stuck. If he is, then maybe you can feed him some stuff that’ll help him to see, you know, where his error is.
QUESTION: I had asked him why the Dead Sea was still dead, but he didn’t have an answer to that.
JOHN: Didn’t help, huh?
QUESTION: The other question that I had was: Do you believe that Christ as He exists now is a material being and, if so, do you believe that before He was incarnate, He also existed as a material being?
JOHN: The answer to the first question is yes, but not a material being as you know it or I know it because there’s a body of resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15 again. There is a body of resurrection, there’s one kind of body and another kind of body and another kind of body and a body of birds and a body of animals and a body of resurrection. And He has a body, a body that, He said, “I’m not a spirit, you see the flesh and bones that I have.” He went through the wall and yet He was there and they could see Him and touch Him and feel Him and all that, so He has a supernatural body which is a visible body.
I do not believe He possessed that before the incarnation. I think “a body thou hast prepared me,” He says in Hebrews, “a body thou hast prepared me.” So I don’t think He entered into that body until His incarnation, then fully became the incarnate Christ, now is the glorified Christ, Son of man, Son of God.
QUESTION: In Genesis 18, do you believe that He just, you know, took on a material . . .
JOHN: God appeared in some manifest form. As to what kind of material form it was, I don’t know. You’re talking about Abraham and Sarah, and God coming on the scene.
QUESTION: Right. I’m just wondering whether, you know, that - a lot of people believe that that was, you know, Christ.
JOHN: Yeah, I think it was God and I think He appeared in some form.
Let me just get these last two very quickly, okay? Thank you. We’ll go right here real quick and then I’ll go over here.
QUESTION: Is it wrong, and how would you tell a fellow Christian that it is, to get involved with some of these multi-level marketing things, such as Amway, where you set your sights on certain material things or wealth. And then come back and say, “Well, it’s all going to be for the glory of God because when I get all this money, I’ll help support retired pastors,” or I’ll do this or I’ll do that?
JOHN: Here I am. No, I’m not going to retire. No. It’s all a question of motive. Nothing - you know, nothing is wrong with that kind of thing if your motive is right. And who can say whether the motive is right? The Lord knows that. I mean if you’re in it to get the biggest car and the biggest house and the biggest ring and the biggest gold watch and the fattest diamond bracelet and parade - I mean if you’re working at Sav-On sweeping to do that, it’s wrong. Or if you’re, you know, underneath a car and that’s your goal, that’s not a good goal.
So it isn’t a question of what kind of organization are you in, it’s a question of what’s in your heart. I know people in various multi-level organizations who have pure motives. Unfortunately, those organizations, many of them, tend to corrupt their motives because all they do is dangle materialistic goals in front of them. But there are people who resist that. And again, it’s a question of where your heart is.
QUESTION: Yeah, because the main thing they do is they tell you to get a picture of something that you want, put it on your refrigerator -
JOHN: Hey, you know, my wife washes our clothes with Amway soap, it’s great stuff. It’s a good product.
QUESTION: Oh, I’m not putting the products down.
JOHN: I think it’s cheaper at the Price Club, but I’m not going to - anyway, but it’s a good product. But - and we get it from very lovely people and it’s wonderful.
QUESTION: So it’s just a question of -
JOHN: Yeah, where your heart is. Sure.
JOHN: Well, great. We’re going to have to cut it off. Sorry. Okay? Next time. Write me a letter, all right? I’ll answer my mail. Thanks, folks, for tonight. I hope we covered some things that were helpful to you. And we’ll do it again sometime. Let’s stand for a word of prayer and we’ll be on our way.
Thank you, Father, tonight for our fellowship. Thank you for all these folks who’ve come to share with us. And thank you, Lord, that we can look to your Word and find all these many answers, a range of subjects. And we know, Lord, when we have this truth that’s in your holy book, we know whereof we speak. Even the things we don’t understand are okay, too, because you do understand. And we accept the fact that we can’t know everything, but what we do know causes us to rejoice. And may we realize that the Scripture says though a man be a fool, though a wayfaring man be a fool, he need not err. The truth is so clear. So help us, Lord, to be faithful students. And bless us until we meet again on your day. In Christ’s name. Amen.
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