December 2018 Bible Questions and Answers


Topics: the age of the earth, miraculous spiritual gifts and eloquence, the sinfulness of politics, how much to give to the church, the pattern of church discipline

How many years has the earth been in existence?

The majority of modern education teaches that this earth is billions of years old. This is because Darwin’s theory of macro-evolution has been embraced by much of the scientific community, and macro-evolution by natural selection requires vast amounts of time.  A relatively young earth with the age of only thousands of years would disprove the popular theory of evolution. Interestingly, there is much evidence that points to the conclusion that the earth is in fact relatively young.

For example, consider the current human population which is currently a little more than seven billion people according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Human population grows when more people are born than die. The current growth rate of the world population is about 1.7% according to the Encyclopaedia BritannicaIn other words, 1.7 persons are added for every 100 people each year. This data combined with historical records shows that the human population on Earth doubles every 40 years.

So if the Earth is really 4.5 billion years old as evolutionists claim, and if people have really been around for 2 to 6 million years, then what would the current population be?

Recent headlines have announced that science has determined that we all descended from just one human couple.  Let’s say this human couple lived on Earth only 1 million years ago. Taking the current growth rate and also accounting that it would in many cases be lower historically for reasons of war, famine, disease, etc., there would now be more than 1 x 10 to the 5,000th power people on earth today. That’s 1 followed by 5,000 zeroes!!

Yet the entire universe has been estimated to hold no more than 1 x 10 to the 100th power people! Therefore, human population statistics prove this earth must be younger than even 1 million years, let alone 4.5 billion.

This goes along with biblical and historical data which also indicate a relatively young earth.

History shows Jesus lived about 2,000 years ago. History also records that about 587 years before He was born, Babylon conquered Judea during the days of Jeremiah and Daniel. About 372 years earlier, Solomon was anointed king of Israel; this was 480 years after Moses led Israel out of Egyptian slavery (1 Kings 6:1).

Abraham lived 400 years before the exodus (Acts 7:6; Gen. 15:13-14). He was born 292 years after Noah’s flood (Gen. 11:10-26).

Noah was born 600 years before the flood (Gen. 7:11). Noah was also born 926 years after Adam’s son Seth was born, and Adam was 130 years old when he fathered Seth (Gen. 5:1-28).

The Bible calls Adam “the first man” (1 Cor. 15:45) and cites him as existing at “the beginning” (Matt. 19:4; cf. Gen. 1:27), created on the sixth day of creation (vs. 26-31).

The days of creation recorded in Genesis 1 are literal 24-hour days. We know this because God cited them as a parallel illustration in His explanation to Israel as to why they were to work six literal days and rest on the seventh (Ex. 20:8-11). Each of the days are also said to have an evening and a morning (vs. 5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31).

So we know Adam was created when this earth was created.  From Adam to Abraham was roughly 2,000 years.  From Abraham to Jesus was about another 2,000 years.  From Jesus to us is about another 2,000 years.

Thus, this earth is roughly about 6,000 years old.

Concerning miraculous spiritual gifts, some who are not eloquent speakers claim “the Spirit took over” them when they were asked a Bible question they didn’t know and yet were suddenly able to give an eloquent answer.

During biblical times, did the Holy Spirit give a person not known to be an eloquent speaker the ability to speak eloquently and knowledge he had not possessed? Does this happen today?

Moses had claimed ineloquence as an excuse to try to avoid the task the Lord had placed before him of speaking to Pharaoh (Ex. 4:10). The Lord responded by saying, “Who has made man’s mouth?…Is it not I, the Lord?…I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak”(vs. 11-12).  When Moses still pleaded for someone else to replace him, the Lord told him that his brother Aaron would be his spokesman and that the Lord would “be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do” (vs. 13-16).

During the time of Jesus and the apostles, Jesus had told the apostles to “not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matt. 10:19-20).  That prophecy started to be fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when the apostles spoke to the crowds in Jerusalem “as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).

Paul listed the various kinds of miraculous spiritual gifts to the Corinthian church (1 Cor. 12:4-11). Among those gifts were the gifts of “the utterance of wisdom…the utterance of knowledge…(and) prophecy” (vs. 8, 10).  “Prophecy” literally means to speak on behalf of God. To have the miraculous gift of prophecy meant that God through His Spirit would directly implant within that person’s mind a message to give to others. To miraculously receive knowledge and wisdom meant that God would directly implant within that person’s mind information he had not known before, and the wisdom concerning how to use that information properly.  Thus the Bible directly states one would miraculously receive knowledge and implies miraculously receiving eloquence as well.

Yet such miraculous spiritual gifts are not possessed by anyone today because the Scriptures foretold that such miraculous gifts – which are called “partial” – would “pass away” and “cease” when “that which is perfect has come” (1 Cor. 13:8-10). “Perfect” (teleios) means “brought to its end, finished,” “completeness,” “mature.”  At the time this was written, the Scriptures had not yet been completed. The purpose of miraculous spiritual gifts were to confirm the Word being preached at that time (Mark 16:17-18, 20; Heb. 2:1-4). Once the New Testament was completed, miracles ceased.

Thus, the Holy Spirit does not miraculously impute eloquence or knowledge upon anyone today. One can only attain eloquence today through natural practice and instruction. Likewise, one can only attain knowledge of God’s will through the natural means of study and instruction of the Scriptures (2 Tim. 2:2).

Is it sinful to be completely uninvolved in political elections?

Sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4). It is impossible to commit sin concerning something about which God has not revealed His will (Rom. 7:8). The only place in which the revealed will of God is found is in the Spirit-inspired Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Eph. 3:3-5; 1 Cor. 2:11-16).

The Scriptures have nothing to say about the inherent rightness or wrongness of political processes such as voting for or holding any elected office. Therefore, God does not consider it sinful to abstain from or participate in political elections. It is a choice we have the freedom to make.

With that said, Satan is known to take something inherently innocent and make it sinful if we make it take a higher priority than God (Matt. 6:33). Idolatry is sinful (Gal. 5:20), and idolatry is defined in part as “any object of ardent or excessive devotion or admiration” (Webster). This definition of idolatry is why covetousness is called idolatry (Col. 3:5); the love of money is greater than the love of God.

It is my observation that many Christians have perhaps unwittingly idolized politics to the point where more attention and devotion is given to what’s happening in current political events than is given to that which is holy (Col. 3:1-2). I know that a few years ago I myself was guilty of this sin.

So while being involved in or giving attention to politics and elections is not inherently sinful, we must be careful that we do not allow it to become an idol and take a higher precedence than that which is spiritual.

How can I know what amount to contribute to the offering plate?

Jesus commanded us to give (Lk. 6:38; Acts 20:35). He directed Paul to command Christians to give to the work of the church every Sunday (1 Cor. 16:1-2). Yet while the Old Testament was quite explicit concerning how much to give, the New Testament is not quite as explicit in its direction concerning the amount one is to give.

Under the Old Law, tithing (giving ten percent) was commanded and done quite often. Abraham and Jacob tithed (Gen. 14:20; 28:20-22). Israel tithed to the support of the Levites and priests (Num. 18:21-28). They also tithed for celebration (Deut. 12:5-18) and every third year for the poor (Deut. 14:28-29).  They gave in other ways also (Ex. 35:4-5, 21, 29; 36:5-7; 23:10-11; Lev. 19:9-10; Deut. 15:1-4; 23:24-25; 24:19-22; 1 Chr. 29:3, 9-15).

The New Testament does not specifically command that Christians tithe. Rather we are told to give in keeping with our prosperity (1 Cor. 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 8:12). We are also told to excel in giving (2 Cor. 8:7) and to give sacrificially (2 Cor. 8:1-6), willingly (2 Cor. 8:12; 9:5, 7), cheerfully (2 Cor. 9:7), purposely (2 Cor. 9:7), and bountifully (2 Cor. 9:6).

Therefore, each of us must decide within ourselves ahead of time how much to give to the work of God each Sunday and do so with the attitudes He has commanded us to have.

If the proper steps are not administered before a person is disfellowshipped from the church, is that disfellowship valid?

Moses was told by God, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain” (Ex. 25:40). Timothy was likewise told by Paul, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:13).  God expects obedience from us in all things (Matt. 7:21-27; Rom. 6:17-18; Heb. 5:9). Actual obedience in His sight requires doing what He said the way He said to do it. Otherwise, it is not valid in His sight.

For example, He commanded that one be literally dipped in water (baptized) into Christ’s body (his church) after having a heart-felt faith in Jesus that motivated repentance in order to be saved and forgiven (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 8:35-39; Rom. 6:3-5; Gal. 3:27; 1 Cor. 12:13; cf. Col. 1:18). Any deviation from that would not constitute actual obedience and thus would not produce the desired results of salvation and forgiveness.

In like manner, He has commanded that unrepentant members of the church have fellowship withdrawn from them (2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15; 1 Cor. 5:1-13; Rom. 16:17-18; 2 John 9-11; 2 Tim. 3:1-5). Yet this process has a pattern to be followed which is laid out in Scripture so that righteous judgments are made instead of assumptions and false conclusions (John 7:24).

First, actual sin must have been committed (Matt. 18:15a). The charge of sin is a serious one and must first be proven legitimate before any fellowship is withdrawn from any member of the church. Sin is the violation of God’s revealed will (1 John 3:4; Rom. 7:8), not the violation of our scruples or preferences.

Sin is mostly committed by one person against another person. If such is the case, the person sinned against is directed to go to the one who sinned against him and “tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother” (Matt. 18:15b).  First, go to the person who sinned against you privately and try to get him to repent, which is the goal of any rebuke or discipline (cf. 2 Tim. 2:24-26). An example of this is seen when Apollos was teaching error and was corrected privately by Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:26).

If necessary, then take 1-2 others with you to talk to him again “so that every charge may be established” (Matt. 16:18). Often misunderstandings or disagreement over personal scruples take place instead of sin. Having an outsider’s perspective can often determine whether actual sin has taken place.  An example of this is seen in Paul’s direction to Timothy to not admit any charge against an elder except if 2-3 witnesses can confirm he has actually sinned (1 Tim. 5:19).

If necessary, the church is then to be told of this Christian’s unrepentant sin and must collectively urge him to repent (Matt. 18:17a). This would be the scenario behind Paul’s directive to Timothy to rebuke that proven unrepentant elder “in the presence of all” (1 Tim. 5:20). The church at Corinth was told they should have been mourning over the proven sexual immorality among them (1 Cor. 5:1-2). The Thessalonians were told to warn the unrepentant among them as a brother would do to another brother (2 Thess. 3:15).

Only after he refuses to listen to the church is fellowship to be withdrawn from this Christian when the church is assembled together (Matt. 18:17b; 1 Cor. 5:3-5, 7, 9-13; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14). This is why Paul directed Titus to “have nothing more to do with” a divisive person only after repeated warnings (Tit. 3:10-11).  Yet even after disfellowship is withdrawn he must not be treated as an enemy, but warned as a brother (2 Thess. 3:15).

When this pattern is followed, the result will be that every possible way and opportunity for repentance and reconciliation will have first been offered to the sinning Christian. It would not be able to legitimately be said that true love and concern for him and his soul was never expressed by every single one of his fellow Christians.  When God’s wishes are adhered to in this manner, the entire church will know exactly what is going on, be motivated themselves to not follow down this same path, and stay pure (cf. 1 Tim. 5:20; 1 Cor. 5:6-8).

Deviating from this pattern will result in the disfellowship not being valid in God’s eyes. Granted, that likely would not make a difference in the eyes of those who have withdrawn fellowship in a way that goes outside of God’s commands. In their view, fellowship would still be withdrawn. Additionally, that would not necessitate that the person withdrawn from had not actually sinned. Sin on their part still could have taken place and they might still need to repent.

Yet in the end, God will make the final judgment. If His revealed will has not been penitently followed to the best of the church’s ability, such will be brought out at judgment (2 Cor. 5:10; Eccl. 12:14).