February 2018 Bible Questions & Answers

Topics: the Destroyer (1 Cor. 10:10), Anna the prophetess and women leadership in the church, God hearing sinners’ prayers, Peter’s denial of Christ and free will, the exclusivity of the church of Christ

Who is the Destroyer mentioned in 1 Corinthians 10:10?

1 Corinthians 10:9-10 
9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents,
10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.

Contextually, Paul is talking about the nation of Israel wandering in the wilderness with Moses and how Christians today should not follow their example when it comes to the sins they had committed.

Verse 9 refers to the events recorded in Numbers 21:4-9, where Israel grumbled against God and He sent serpents among them to kill many of them as punishment.

Verse 10 likely refers the events of Numbers 16:1-50, where three Israelites named Korah, Dathan and Abiram, along with 250 chiefs of the congregation of Israel, tried to lead a revolt against Moses’ leadership.

God caused the earth to open up under the three men and their families and swallow them up, and then killed the 250 chiefs with fire.  Afterwards, the Israelites continued to grumble and so God killed 14,700 of them with a plague.

Thus, the Destroyer mentioned in 1 Corinthians 10:10 would refer to God Himself.

Is Anna the prophetess an example of a church leader (Lk. 2:36-38)?  If so, does this lend way for women leaders in the church today?

No, for two reasons:

1)  The church was not in existence yet, nor had Jesus yet died.  Thus, the old covenant was still in place.  The prohibition against women exercising authority over men in the church (1 Tim. 2:11-12; 3:14-15) was part of the new covenant, not the old.

2)  There were prophetesses in the church (Acts 21:9; 1 Cor. 11:5).  However, in order to prophesy acceptably to God they would have had to prophesy within the parameters of 1 Timothy 2:11-12.  Thus, they would have prophesied to other women in the church (Tit. 2:3-5) or those outside the church (Mk. 16:15; Mt. 28:19; Acts 8:4).

Can a sinner pray to God?

Psalms 66:18
18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.

Proverbs 28:9
9 If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.

Isaiah 59:2
2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

With that said, we know that God heard Cornelius’ prayers before he became a Christian.

Acts 10:1-4
1 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort,
2 a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God.
3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.”
4 And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God.

Jesus also said that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness shall be filled (Mt. 5:6).  If one hungers and thirsts for righteousness, that implies they are not righteous but desperately want to be.  Thus, they are likely praying that God help them to become righteous.  Cornelius was likely one such individual. God heard his prayers and answered them by providing an opportunity for him to hear the gospel and be saved.

Sinners who do not hunger after righteousness are not heard by God should they pray at all (Ps. 66:18; Pr. 28:9; Is. 59:2).

Was Peter’s denial a miraculous removal of his free will, considering that he was bold enough to cut off an ear shortly beforehand?

God does not remove free will (Josh 24:15, 22; 1 Kings 18:21), nor does He force anyone to sin (Jas. 1:13).  He does not give Satan the power to force one to sin either (Job 1-2; 1 Cor. 10:13).  Thus, Peter’s denial of Christ was not the result of having his free will miraculously removed by God or Satan.

So why did Peter deny that he knew Christ only hours after bravely declaring that he would die with Him (Mt. 26:31-35) and then bravely coming to Jesus’ defense in the garden by cutting off Malchus’ ear (John 18:10)?

Consider this.  Peter had an erroneous preconceived notion that the Messiah, a conqueror, would not be killed by His enemies (Mt. 16:21-23; Acts 1:6).  Add to that his likely confusion as to why Jesus had not allowed him to keep Him from being arrested (Mt. 26:51-52) and had gone willingly with His enemies.

Thus, Peter was likely very confused by the time he arrived at the courtyard. Peter had likely made that confident assertion that he would die rather than deny Christ because of his preconceived notion that Jesus would never be arrested nor killed.  Now that he saw Jesus willingly going to death, his preconceptions were thrown into confusion and he realized that he also was more vulnerable to Christ’s enemies and thus to his own arrest and death than he had thought. Confusion led to fear, which led to his denials.

What makes the church of Christ God’s exclusive group?

The Scriptures.  Referring to local congregations of Christ, Paul used the phrase “churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16), ekklesia Christos, the churches belonging to or associated with Christ.

Christ said, “…I will build my church” (Mt. 16:18), giving ownership of it to Himself. He purchased it with His own blood (Acts 20:28).   He is the “head over all things to the church, which is his body” (Eph. 1:22-23), further establishing ownership of the church to Himself.

Its exclusivity is shown by the fact that the Scriptures call Christ’s church His body (Col. 1:18) and say there is but one body (Eph. 4:4).  The faith for which the church is to contend (Jude 3) is also said to be only one (Eph. 4:5).  That faith comes from hearing Christ’s words (Rom. 10:17), God’s Word which is truth (John 17:17); truth is the foundation of the church of God (1 Tim. 3:15).

While the Scriptures give other names and descriptions of God’s exclusive church other than “churches of Christ” such as “the church of God” (1 Cor. 1:2), “the church of the firstborn” (Heb. 12:23), “the church” (Acts 8:1), “the Way” (Acts 9:2)…in the end the Scriptures teach there is but one church, that church belongs to Christ, is made up only of those who hold to the one faith which comes from the truth of God’s Word which is that church’s foundation, and is His body and He is its Savior (Eph. 5:23).  Thus, to be saved by Christ one must be in His exclusive church.