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Frequently Asked Questions - Doctrines

FAQs - Doctrines

The Bible teaches us that there is only one God (" Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD" Deuteronomy 6:4). But God exists in three persons ("...baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:" - Matthew 28:19 - notice that it is "name" and not "names", indicating that there is only one God). Jesus showed that He and the Father are only One God when He said "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30). They are related as follows: The Father sent The Son (John 3:16) and the Father and the Son sent the Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26).

1) Biblically, Jesus was not "buried" as in being covered over with earth below ground level. His body was laid in a sepulchre, which is a cave hewn out of rock above ground level with several chambers for placing dead bodies. Hence the body of Jesus was never underground.

1 Corinthians 15:3,4 - "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures."

John 20:5-7 - "And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself."

2) The tomb in which Jesus was laid was like the tomb in which Lazarus was laid, from which he could walk out (not climb out) when the stone was removed from the entrance:

John 11:38,43,44 - "Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. ...And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes"

3) The word "thapto" that is translated as "bury" in Romans 6:4 ("Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death") simply means to put into a grave, or to entomb, or to honour with funeral rites. e.g.

Matthew 8:21,22 - "And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead."

Romans 6:4 can thus be translated: "Therefore we are ‘funeralised’ with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."

Hence there is no necessity for a person to be plunged underwater when he is baptised. Baptism is properly administered by sprinkling.

The Holy Spirit is God -- He is not a force (implied by the word ‘what’ you used) as no one can lie to a force ("But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God." – Acts 5:3,4 - Notice that in the first part it is ‘lie to the Holy Ghost’ and in the last part it is ‘lie unto God.’)

In short, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is permanent while the filling of the Holy Spirit is not permanent. A believer can be indwelt but not filled with the Spirit. We do not need to seek the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. God does this to us once and for all the moment we are saved, and we can never lose it. That is why there is no commandment in the Bible to be indwelt, while there is a commandment to be filled or led by the Spirit.

Let us look at some passages of scripture on the indwelling of the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 3:16 – "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" Romans 8:11 – "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." 2 Timothy 1:14 – "That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us." In all these verses we notice how Paul simply assumes that Christians are indwelt by the Spirit – i.e. it is stated as a fact that is true of all born-again Christians. Romans 8:9 – "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." It is therefore quite clear that every true believer is indwelt with the Spirit of God.

But now look at passages about the filling of the Spirit: Firstly we see that some believers are described as being ‘full of the Holy Spirit’ Acts 6:3 – "Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business." Acts 11:24 – "For he [Barnabas] was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord." Is this filling only reserved for a special elite group of Christians, who serve the Lord well? No, because the command is given to all in Ephesians 5:18 – "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit"

Hence the filling of the Spirit is up to us – ideally we should be filled all the time, but it is possible to lose the filling of the spirit because of the old sinful nature in us. This experience is described by Paul himself in Romans 7:19,20 – "For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." Then He mentions how to overcome the flesh, in Romans 8:1,2 – "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."

The term ‘walking in the Spirit’ implies an ongoing, daily effort of keeping in step with the Holy Spirit. Cf. Galatians 5:16-18 – "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law."

Hence it is clear that being filled with the Spirit, is dependent on the believer’s initiative. We must consciously yield ourselves to the Spirit’s leading and working within us.

We pray to God in all three persons, though prayers are usually addressed to the Father. But it makes no difference to address prayers to Jesus. "And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." - Acts 7:59.

John 16:23,24 -- "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full."

Yes, though it has already been shed 2000 years ago, the blood of Jesus still washes away our sins (1 John 1:7 - "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."). An analogy will help to understand this better. If someone signed a will 50 years ago, the will still remains in effect till today and has the power to grant the inheritor the right to inherit the property.

The writers of the books of the Bible said that their books were written by inspiration of God. E.g. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:16,17, cf 2 Peter 1:21). Paul said this in 1 Corinthians 2:12,13 -- "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual."

Peter acknowledged that Paul’s writings were part of the Scriptures inspired by God -- "even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction." (2 Peter 3:15,16)

Yes, Peter who denied Jesus 3 times was the same Peter who wrote some books of the Bible (ie. 1 Peter and 2 Peter). But unlike Judas, Peter repented of His sin (which was done out of fear for his own life, rather than out of malicious intent, as was the case for Judas’ betrayal) and was restored by Jesus Christ in John 21:15-27). All writers of the books of the Bible were in fact sinners who were mercifully forgiven and cleansed by God (e.g. Isaiah 6:5-7).

 

God is able to do anything - so long as He wills to do it. He will never will to do anything contrary to His attributes of wisdom, holiness, justice, and love.

God can take away the sin of the world now if He wanted to, but that may mean another Great Flood like in the time of Noah, with many deaths and few survivors - since all men are sinners (Romans 3:23). A time is coming when God, in His justice, will execute judgment on the sins of the world and put an end to all suffering. But God, in His love, has deliberately delayed that time, as 2 Peter 3:9,10 tells us -- " The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up."

Instead of judging the world now for all its sins, God, in His wisdom, has made a powerful plan of salvation that is more effective in taking away sin: By sending His Son to die on the cross for sin. Only people who turn to Jesus Christ can have their sins taken away from their lives, and their hearts are changed so that they will grow to sin less and less. Remember that we are not robots that can be instantly altered. It takes time for moral creatures like us with our own will to repent and change. It would be nice to have our sins taken away immediately so that we can never sin again and would no longer have to struggle with this problem every day. But God, in His wisdom and love, wants His children to go through the process of learning to depend fully and consciously upon Him to overcome sin and temptation.

Paul said in Romans 7:22 -8:2 "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."

The remedy we need is found in Galatians 5:16 -- "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh."

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

July 16 & 23 - Expectant Living

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13