December 2016 Bible Questions & Answers

Do our loved ones who’ve gone on rest only?  Are they aware of those they’ve left behind?

Death is often referred to as “sleep” in the Bible (Matt. 27:52-53; John 11:11-13; Acts 7:60; 1 Cor. 15:6, 18, 20; 1 Thess. 4:13-17; 2 Pet. 3:4).  “Sleep” is a euphemistic metaphor for death.  It shouldn’t be taken to mean that death brings about an end to all consciousness, in which the soul or spirit is “dormant” in the sense of hibernation or unconsciousness.  Otherwise, Abraham and the rich man wouldn’t have been able to communicate after death.  Death is like sleep in that it brings about a cessation of activity, a season of rest and repose for those who are saved and in Paradise but not for those who are unsaved (2 Cor. 5:10-11a).

Those who have passed on are very much aware of those whom they’ve left behind as well as the memories of what happened in this life (cf. Luk 16:25, 27-31; 1 Sam. 28:15-18).

Is Isaiah 53 talking about the Messiah or Israel?

The passage applies to the Messiah and not to Israel for several reasons:

  1.  The Holy Spirit affirmed that Isaiah was talking about the Messiah (Acts 8:32-35).
  2. The language of Isaiah 53 speaks of an individual person, not a nation (cf. 53:2-4; compare “he” of verse 2 to “my people” of verse 8).
  3. The victim in Isaiah 53 is innocent (v. 9); the book of Isaiah as a whole shows Israel being guilty.
  4. Isaiah’s victim passively endures the abuse heaped upon him (v. 7), but the nation of Israel fought for their survival to the bitter end.
  5. The benefits of the death of the Individual in Isaiah 53 were passed on to others (vs. 5, 11-12).  The destruction of the Jewish nation held no such benefits.

Thus, Isaiah 53 is solely speaking of Jesus.

No man has seen God at any time (John 1:18; 1 John 4:12).  However, Moses said the Lord spoke to him “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Ex. 33:11).  Please explain.

Words and phrases are used in different senses in Scripture.  Jesus “was God” (John 1:1), yet also “became flesh and dwelt among us” (v. 14).  Man saw God when they saw Jesus…but not in God’s true spiritual image because Jesus took on the “likeness of man” (John 4:24; Phil. 2:6-7).  When Moses saw God “face to face,” he was seeing only a manifestation of God and only part of his glory (Ex. 33:18-12).

The terms “face” and “face to face” are used in different senses in Scripture.  God spoke to Moses “face to face” (Ex. 33:11)…but nine verses later says, “You cannot see my face, for no man shall see me and live.”  This not a contradiction because Numbers 12:6-8 shows us the difference, namely, that “face to face” means to speak “plainly,” directly, “not in riddles” (v. 8).  “Face to face” is a figure of speech, like “side by side” or “eye to eye.”

If Jesus wanted to save us, why did he pray to have this cup pass from him?  (Luke 22:42)

Christ was both God and man while here on earth (John 1:1, 14; Phil. 2:6-7).  Thus, his human nature was deeply affected by the ordeal he faced.  Jesus the man wanted to explore other options for our salvation…but Jesus the Son of God “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8), as the sacrifice for our sins (Heb. 9:26-28; 10:10-12).

What is the age of accountability?

The Bible teaches that children are sinless and innocent (Ezek. 18:1-20; 28:15; Rom. 9:10-11; Matt. 18:3-4)…until the time when they become accountable for their actions (Is. 7:15).

Before that time, spiritually they were alive…but when they chose to sin they spiritually died (Rom. 7:9-11).  At that point they would stand in need of grace and forgiveness, and would need to obey the gospel.

The time one becomes accountable is different for each person, depending on when and how they come to understand the basics of right and wrong.

Do angels walk among us today?

“Angel” comes from the Greek angelos and literally means “messenger,” God’s messengers.  The Bible speaks of human messengers/angelos (Rev. 2-3; cf. 2 Tim. 4:2) and celestial messengers/angelos (Rev. 5:2; 7:2; etc.)

Celestial angelos are said to serve for our sakes, although notice that it is not said how (Heb. 1:14).

Children are said to have angels (“their angels” – Matt. 18:20), although in what capacity we are not told (there is no specific mention of “guardian angels” in the Bible).

Hebrews 13:2 possibly implies that angels walk among us; however, not the term “unawares.”

Remember that there are secret things which belong to God which we don’t know (Deut. 29:29).  This is one of them.

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You can watch the Facebook Live recording of this Q&A session here.

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