March & April 2019 Bible Questions & Answers

Questions

  1. Why did God make harmful animals?
  2. What does John 1:1 mean?
  3. Why don’t we follow the Old Testament?
  4. How does the devil work today?
  5. Isaiah 64:4 states that no one has seen another God other than “Thee.” This implies that someone has seen God.  Either the writer is talking to Jesus or John 1:18 has an alternative meaning.  Thoughts?
  6. Why do we wear the name “Church of Christ”?  What other names are scriptural?  What names are not scriptural?
  7. Why did Old Testament people live hundreds of years, but the average person now dies before one century?
  8. Can someone who is not a Christian baptize someone?
  9. Can someone who is not a Christian serve someone the Lord’s Supper?
  10. Why is God referred to by the name “I AM”?
  11. Why are there so many churches?

Why did God make harmful animals?

When God made mankind and animals when He created the world, He made them so that they were vegetarian in nature and thus did not feed off of each other (Gen.1:29-30).  However, after Noah’s flood God put into all animals a fear and dread of mankind, and also decreed that man could eat them as well as vegetables (Gen. 9:2-3). This allowance of eating meat in addition to vegetables was apparently also given to animals after the flood (cf. Ps. 104:21).

Some animals are herbivores and eat only plants. Other animals are omnivores, eating both plants and animals/man. Others are carnivores, eating only animals/man. The herbivores and omnivores help keep the number of plants in existence manageable. The omnivores and carnivores help keep the number of animals in existence manageable as well.  Imagine how many rats would be around if cats didn’t eat rats! Imagine how many snakes would exist if owls didn’t eat snakes! Imagine how many mosquitos would bug you if fish and frogs didn’t eat mosquitos!

Also remember that mankind was given the responsibility to have dominion over all animals (Gen. 1:28; Ps. 8:6-8; James 3:7). God wants us to have regard for the lives of animals (Prov. 12:10), which means that killing simply out of sport or spite would not please Him. Unfortunately, most of mankind never has cared about the will of God, including this aspect of His will, and some go out of their way to try to harm animals for no reason.

Remember that God put the fear of man into animals (Gen. 9:2). Thus, when a human is nearby an animal may react in a way that would be harmful to that human because it is afraid of the human, sometimes with good reason, and simply trying to protect itself and its cubs from a perceived threat. Other times, it may try to harm a person because it is a carnivore or omnivore which is hungry and prowling for food.  Regardless of the reason, the potential for wild animals to harm us is a good motivator for us to treat them with the respect and kindness God wants. Perhaps that’s another reason He made animals with the potential to harm.

What does John 1:1 mean?

John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

“Word” comes from logos, which refers to speech, discourse, teaching, and the mind (knowledge, thinking, wisdom, etc.). John 1:14-18 identifies the Word as having become flesh and dwelling among us in the form of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Therefore, “the Word” (John 1:1) is Jesus.

Jesus – the Word, logos – was “in the beginning,” was “with God,” and “was God.” It makes sense that He was in the beginning since He created all things (John 1:3; Col. 1:16). Him being “with God” explains why at creation God – Elohim, a plural term – said, “Let Us make man in Our image” (Gen. 1:26).  The fact that He – the Word – “was God” (is God) shows that Jesus should not only be thought of as the part of God which is God’s Son, but also as the logos of God: the personification of God’s wisdom, knowledge, reasoning, teaching, and communication.

Why don’t we follow the Old Testament?

The Old Testament was given only to the nation of Israel starting at Mt. Sinai and continuing until Jesus died on the cross (Deut. 5:1-3; Col. 2:14; Eph. 2:14-16; Heb. 9:15-17). The Old Testament itself prophesied that it would be replaced by a New Covenant/Testament (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:7-13).  Thus, the laws of the Old Testament are not to be followed by Christians today since we are under the laws of the New Testament (Gal. 5:1-4).

This is not to say that the Old Testament has no value to the Christian today and should not be studied. It is part of Scripture, all of which can teach us, reprove us, correct us, train us to be righteous, make us complete, and thoroughly equip us for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The New Testament specifically says that the Old Testament is written to instruct and encourage Christians (Rom. 15:4), as well as give us examples of right and wrong and admonish us (1 Cor. 10:6, 11). Without a good understanding and knowledge of the Old Testament, much of the New Testament will never be understood or properly obeyed.

How does the devil work today?

1 Peter 5:8
8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

He works stealthily and deceitfully (John 8:44). He works through people who seem pious and godly but who teach false doctrine and lead others astray (2 Cor. 11:13-14; 2 Tim. 4:3-4). He tempts us to sin by using our own lusts and strong desires (James 1:13-15; 1 John 2:15-17).

Isaiah 64:4 states that no one has seen another God other than “Thee.” This implies that someone has seen God. Either the writer is talking to Jesus or John 1:18 has an alternative meaning. Thoughts?

Paul quoted from this passage in Isaiah when he wrote Corinth about the revealed will of God as given via inspiration of the Holy Spirit to the apostles and prophets of the New Testament (1 Cor. 2:7-16). Contextually, Isaiah talks of the awesome things God is capable of doing when he says, “…no eye has seen a God besides you…” (Is. 64:4).  In other words, “When I think of all the wondrous things You have done it becomes clear that the only God man has ever seen or had interaction with is You, Jehovah. All other so-called gods do not really exist” (cf. 1 Cor. 8:4-6).

This in no way contradicts John 1:18’s, “No one has ever seen God…” Remember that words and phrases are often used in a variety of ways both in the Bible and in modern conversation also. John had just written that Jesus, the Word, was God (1:1); he then said that Jesus, the Word, “became flesh and dwelt among us” (1:14), right before saying that “no man has seen God at any time” (1:18).

Jesus was God, and man saw Jesus. So in what sense has man not seen God?

God is spirit (John 4:24). Jesus is God, but no man has ever seen Jesus in His true image as a spirit Being in all of his fullness, glory, and splendor. Jesus had existed in heaven as God and then “made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:6-7).  So when mankind saw Jesus, they saw an embodiment of deity in the form of a man…the Word who became flesh.

Likewise, when Jacob struggled with God and afterwards said, “I have seen God face to face” (Gen. 32:30), he saw only a form of God instead of the spiritual, invisible, omnipresent God who fills heaven and earth. When Moses said the Lord spoke to him “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Ex. 33:11), he had witnessed a great and awesome thing…but still only saw a manifestation of God and part of His glory, not the fullness of His glory.

God specifically said as much in Exodus 33:18-23 when Moses asked Him to show him His glory. God replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you…but…you cannot see My face, for man shall not see Me and live.” He then put Moses in a cleft in the rock and covered him with His hand until He had passed by. Then God took away His hand and Moses saw His back, but not His face. He saw a manifestation of God, part of His glory, but not the fullness of His glory.

Remember also that the terms “face” and “face to face” are used in different senses in Scripture. God spoke to Moses “face to face” (Ex. 33:11), yet nine verses later tells Moses, “You cannot see my face, for no man shall see me and live.” The terms are used in different senses.   Numbers 12 explains. Moses’ critics had asked, “Has the Lord only spoken through Moses?” (v. 2). God replied that He speaks to others in visions and dreams, but with Moses He speaks “face to face, even PLAINLY, and NOT IN DARK SAYINGS (RIDDLES)” (vs. 6-8).

In other words, God spoke with others through visions and dreams, but to Moses He spoke plainly, directly. He never showed His face to Moses, but nonetheless allowed Moses to see some unmistakable evidence of His glorious presence by letting him see His back. He spoke to him “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Ex. 33:11)…plainly, directly.

If one can work “side by side” with someone without literally working inches from him, and if one can see “eye to eye” with someone without their eyeballs touching the other person’s eyeballs, then God can speak “face to face” with Moses without literally revealing to him His full, glorious, spiritual “face.”

Why do we wear the name “Church of Christ”? What other names are scriptural? What names are not scriptural?

The church of the New Testament is described generally in two ways: universally and locally.  Universally, the church is called the body of Christ, of which there is only one and of which He is the head and Savior (Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4; 5:23). It is what Jesus spoke of when He said He would build His church (Matt. 16:18).  Locally, the church exists in numerous geographical locations world-wide wherever Christians assemble to worship and work together. It is what Paul spoke of when he wrote, “The churches of Christ salute you” (Rom. 16:16).

Both the universal church and local churches are talked about in common, concrete, collective nouns and descriptive phrases in the New Testament (“My church,” “the church,” “the churches of Galatia,” “the church of God which is at Corinth,” “the churches of Christ salute you,” etc.)

Scripturally, one could refer to the universal church or local churches in the same ways the New Testament does (“the church,” “the church of the Firstborn,” “the Way,” “the church of God,” “the church of Christ,” “the church of Christ in Covington,” “the church in Adairsville,” etc.)

For expeditious reasons, one could use these scriptural terms as a proper noun to describe the church in a titular fashion; however, it would be counterproductive to good first impressions to use improper grammar while using a proper noun to describe the church (“Calhoun church of Christ” instead of the grammatically correct “Calhoun Church of Christ”).

Unscriptural ways to describe the church would include naming a church after a man, poetic or literal concept, etc. (e.g, the Lutheran Church, Methodist Church, Salvation Army, Generation Church, Life Church, Real Life, CrossPoint, Renovation, etc.)

This is because we are told to not add to God’s Word nor go beyond what is written (Prov. 30:6; 1 Cor. 4:6). Therefore, we should be satisfied with calling the church the terms which God chose to call her in Scripture, especially since His Son purchased the church with His own blood (Acts 20:28).

Why did Old Testament people live hundreds of years, but the average person now dies before one century?

The Old Testament does show that mankind used to live for centuries. Adam’s descendants lived for 700-900 years on average (Gen. 5:1-31). Noah lived 950 years (Gen. 9:29).

A few generations after the flood, the longevity of mankind’s ages decreased noticeably down to around 400 years and then to around 200 and less (Gen. 11:10-24). Abraham’s father lived 205 years (Gen. 11:32). Sarah, 127 (Gen. 23:1). Abraham, 175 (Gen. 25:7). Isaac, 180 (Gen. 35:28). Jacob, 147 (Gen. 47:28). Joseph, 110 (Gen. 50:22). Moses, 120 (Deut. 34:7). Joshua, 110 (Josh. 24:29).

Around this time God inspired Moses to give the average age span of man: 70-80 years (Ps. 90:10). Throughout history since then, we’ve seen this to be generally true. At times the average life span was shorter, and at times some people lived a decade or two longer.

Why is this the case? Why did people live for almost 1,000 years pre-flood, while post-flood they dropped down to a few hundred years within a few generations and eventually to only 70-80 years or so? To find out, we must consider the factors relevant to dying a natural, non-violent death.

Genetics play a big part. Adam and Eve’s bodies were originally made to live forever; they had access to the Tree of Life for an indeterminate time while in Eden. Thus theirs and their descendants’ genetic construction were likely structured in a way productive to age longevity. Considering that they had to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth,” perhaps God created their genetics and metabolisms to ensure that Adam and Eve and their descendants lived very long lives in order to have numerous offspring (Gen. 1:28; 5:3-4, 6-7, 9-10; etc.) Also, note that the genetic mutations that cause much of the diseases that kill us today were not present at creation.

Factors outside the body also play a part in natural death. When this world was created, God saw that it was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Earth was in a pristine condition before the flood. There were no pollutants or chemicals in the air, food or water. The atmosphere was different than today, having large amounts of humidity (Gen. 1:6-7) that contributed to a warmer, tropical climate planet-wide; the ozone levels, amount of ultraviolet light, background radiation, cosmic radiation reaching the earth, hydrologic cycle…all were much different than they became post-flood. Mankind’s diet was also strictly vegetarian pre-flood (Gen. 1:29).

The flood caused massive atmospheric and geological changes to the planet (Gen. 7:11). When “the windows of the heavens were opened” and released the huge amount of water stored within them that previously had contributed to the planet-wide tropical climate, the atmosphere changed dramatically. No longer was the planet primarily tropical; ice ages began as a result of the flood. It is likely that these huge changes in the atmosphere caused a significant change in the amount of ultraviolet light and planetary ozone and radiation levels, all factors which contribute to natural death. Additionally, mankind’s diet changed post-flood in that meat was included (Gen. 9:2-3).

There were genetic changes after the flood as well. Post-flood there were initially only eight people alive on the planet, six of whom continued to have children. This caused what scientists call a “genetic bottleneck,” a significant loss of access to other people’s versions of genes. Thus, generations immediately after the flood saw marriages between close relatives, causing a loss or splitting up of the gene pool which likely had an adverse effect on age longevity as the generations went by.

Because of these external and internal factors, age longevity decreased generationally after the flood until it reached what it generally is today.

Can someone who is not a Christian baptize someone?

From a technical standpoint, yes. The biblical focus is on the one submitting to baptism, not the person administering the act of baptism. Out of all the acts God commands of us, baptism is the only one in which we are passive. We actively believe, repent, and obey. Baptism is the only act which requires someone else to do something to us, namely, immerse us in water. That “someone else” could technically be anyone, Christian or non-Christian.

With that being said, the situation in which a person who is not a Christian would baptize someone into Christianity is not the norm. In most cases, the Christian who taught and thereby converted the one wishing to be baptized will be the one who either baptizes him or directs him to a fellow Christian to baptize him (cf. 1 Cor. 1:14; every baptism in Acts).

The “isolation scenario” in which a lost soul reads a Bible without any person explaining Scripture to them, comes to an understanding of baptism, and “flags down the first person they see” to baptize them is very rare and unlikely (cf. Acts 8:30-31, 36-38).

Scripturally, there is but one body, one faith, and one baptism (Eph. 4:4-5). That “one body” is Christ’s body which is His church (Eph. 1:22-23), meaning that there is but one church in the sight of God: the church belonging to His Son which is “the pillar and ground of the truth” which is God’s Word (1 Tim. 3:15; John 17:17). One must be baptized into that one body in order to be saved (1 Cor. 12:13) because Christ is the Savior of that one body, His church (Eph. 5:23).

Thus, while someone not a member of the body of Christ could conceivably be the one baptizing someone into Christ’s body, it is much more likely the one doing the baptizing will be a Christian as the New Testament defines it, not a member of any man-made denomination, but a member of the church belonging to Christ.

Can someone who is not a Christian serve someone the Lord’s Supper?

“Serving the Lord’s Supper” – i.e., having the congregation sit in their seats while a few people carry trays containing the bread and fruit of the vine and pass them row by row to the whole assembly – is nothing but an expedient way to carry out the biblical command for Christians to assemble together and partake of communion.

There are other ways in which we could partake of communion together that do not require the Supper being served to us as is traditionally done. Each of us could bring our own unleavened bread and fruit of the vine from home. We could arrive to church and find a piece of bread and a cup already on our seats. We could all form a line and walk up to the where the bread and fruit of the vine are in the room and serve ourselves. Having it served to us where we sit is nothing but an expedient way to fulfill the command to partake.

As with all expeditious calls of judgment concerning how to fulfill scriptural commands, we must make sure that the way we judge most expedient to obey the command to partake of communion does not in any way violate any other scriptural command (Matt. 23:23).  Wisdom demands that we likewise make sure that it does not carry with it the perception of violating any other scriptural command in order to avoid being a stumbling block to those weaker in knowledge and spiritual maturity (Matt. 18:6-9; 1 Cor. 8:9-13).

God inspired Paul to charge Timothy to command the Ephesians Christians that He wants “the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath or dissension” (1 Tim. 2:8). Since Scripture shows elsewhere that women can and must pray (1 Cor. 11:5; 1 Thess. 5:17-18), the command here is that men rather than women lead the prayers and all other acts of worship during the church assembly (cf. 1 Tim. 2:12; 3:14-15).  Specifically, the men in question must be holy (“lifting up holy hands”). Only Christians are holy in the sight of God (Rom. 12:1; 1 Cor. 3:17; Eph. 1:4; 5:27). Therefore, only Christian men can lead the church in acts of worship.

With this in mind, we must conclude that while it is nothing but an expeditious call of judgment for the church to worship by partaking of communion via the method of having others stand before the congregation and serve them row by row, care must be taken that we do not violate or give the perception of violating the scriptural command that Christian men lead the church in acts of worship.  Those who serve communion are perceived by others to have authority in that act of worship since they stand before the congregation, say the prayers over the emblems, and take the initiative in serving the emblems. The church as a whole follows their lead. Communion is not seen as having started until the servers rise to stand before the church, and it is not seen as ended until the servers have finished serving. Those sitting wait until those serving come to their row, trusting the servers to take the lead in making sure they are served.

Therefore, it should be Christian men who stand before the church to serve them communion. Otherwise, it will be very easily seen as a violation of the scriptural precept of men taking the lead in acts of worship (1 Tim. 2:8, 11-12; 3:14-15) and thus put a stumbling block in the path of church unity (Rom. 14:19-20).

It would be a stumbling block in another way as well, in that those who wish to actively promote unscriptural teachings and practices in the church could easily use the precedent of those other than Christian men taking the lead in serving communion to promote opening the door for those other than Christian men taking the lead in more direct, less expeditious ways concerning other acts of worship like prayer, singing, or preaching (cf. 2 Tim. 3:13).

Therefore, let us be “as wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matt. 10:16) and be on the lookout to not give Satan an opening by taking an expedient judgment call outside of scriptural parameters.

Why is God referred to by the name “I AM”?

When Moses asked God what he should say when Israel asked Who had sent him to them, God replied, “…I AM WHO I AM…Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Ex. 3:13-14).

“I AM” comes from the Hebrew term hayah, meaning in this context “to be, to exist, be in existence, to abide, remain, continue.” God used this term to refer to Himself because God has always and will always be, exist, remain, and continue (cf. Heb. 13:8; Rev. 1:4, 8).

Why are there so many churches?

As far as God is concerned, there is but one church because the church is His Son’s body (Eph. 1:22-23), and there is “one body” (Eph. 4:4) and “one faith” (Eph. 4:5). That church is based solely on the truth of God’s Word (1 Tim. 3:15; John 17:17; Rom. 10:17).

The reason many churches which promote many different faiths exist and have existed for centuries is because most people choose to “not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

This results in them “depart(ing) from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars who consciences are seared” (1 Tim. 4:1-2). Consequently, they “went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that might become plain that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19).

Two thousand years of church history has shown this to be the case, starting with the Judaizers and Gnostics of the first century, continuing with the rise of Catholicism in the second and third centuries, followed by the rise of the nationalistic Orthodoxy, Protestantism, the cults, Mormonism and Pentecostalism, the community church movement, and a host of other man-made sects and faiths throughout the centuries.

No wonder our Lord prophesied of religious folks who would lead others astray (Matt. 7:13-27; 24:11, 24; Mark 13:22) and so much of the New Testament is devoted to either warning about or correcting false doctrine (Acts 15:1ff; 20:29-31; Rom. 3-11; 16:17-18; 1 Cor. 7:18-19; 2 Cor. 3:3-11; 11:13-15; Gal. 1:6-5:15; Eph. 2:1-22; Col. 2:8-23; 2 Thess. 2:1-12; 1 Tim. 1:3-11; 4:1-7; 6:3-6, 20-21; 2 Tim. 2:14-26; 3:1-13; 4:1-5; Tit. 1:9-2:1; 3:9-11; Hebrews; James 5:19-20; 2 Pet. 2:1-22; 3:3-5, 15-16; 1 John 1:8, 10; 2:4, 18-27; 4:1-6; 2 John 7-11; Jude 3-16; Rev. 2:2, 9, 14-16, 20-24; 3:9; 13:1-18; 19:20; 20:10; 21:8, 27; 22:15, 18-19).

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