October 2019 Bible Questions & Answers

  1. Why is Jesus called the “only begotten” Son of God?  Is He a created being like the angels?

  2. Does Satan give his servants power to perform miracles?
  3. Does God punish you for bad behavior?
  4. I read a lot about “laying hands on people” in the Bible.  Please explain.
  5. Please explain 1 Peter 3:21’s statement about baptism not removing dirt from the body but being an appeal to God for a good conscience.

 

Why is Jesus called the “only begotten” Son of God?  Is He a created being like the angels?

Jesus is the “only begotten” Son of God (John 3:16).  “Only begotten” comes from monogenes in Greek, mono (only, alone) combined with genos (race, stock), “from one race or stock, unique offspring.”  Thus, it is translated “only begotten.”

While all Christians are called God’s children (1 John 3:1-2), Christ is God’s Son in a unique way.  Of all of God’s children, He alone is Deity.  Thus, He is not a created being like the angels (John 1:1).  He is the only way Deity is made known to us (John 1:18).  Our salvation is found only through Him (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9; John 14:6).

Does Satan give his servants power to perform miracles?

I know of no Bible passage that specifically says that Satan gave his servants power to perform miracles.  Demons (who may or may not have been Satan’s angels) possessed some people in biblical times and gave them superhuman strength at times (Mk. 5:4; Acts 19:16), but also at times made them mute, blind, convulse, epileptic, etc.  God was ultimately in control over them, not Satan (Lk. 10:17ff).  Jesus said that casting out demons miraculously was to show that the kingdom/church was about to start (Lk. 11:20; cf. Col. 1:13).  Zechariah prophesied that God would remove unclean spirits during the beginning of the gospel age.

Thus, no true miracles of any kind take place today (cf. 1 Cor. 13:8-10).  False signs are purported by false religions in order to deceive unbelievers (cf. 2 Thess. 2:9-12).

Does God punish you for bad behavior?

Why do bad things happen to people?  Sometimes it’s simply due to chance (Eccl. 9:11).  Sometimes it’s because God allows Satan to bring bad things into our lives to test our faith (Job 1-2).  Sometimes God out of love allows bad things to happen to us in order to discipline us (Heb. 12:3-11).  This helps make us spiritually stronger (vs. 9-11).  It could also be His way to punish us for wrongdoing (cf. 1 Cor. 11:29-32).

Without divine revelation (of which no more is forthcoming — Jude 3), we simply don’t know God’s reasons in a particular case.  Therefore, we shouldn’t assume anything like Job’s friends did (cf. John 7:24).

I read a lot about “laying hands on people” in the Bible.  Please explain.

It was done for the following reasons:

  1. To give a blessing (Gen. 48:14ff; Matt. 19:13-15).
  2. While offering sacrifices in the Old Testament (Lev. 3:1ff; 4:4; 16:21; Num. 8:12).
  3. To appoint someone to an office or responsibility (Num. 27:18-23; Acts 6:1-6; 13:1-3; cf. 1 Tim. 5:19-22).
  4. To pass sentence on a convicted criminal (Lev. 24:14).
  5. To miraculously heal (Lk. 4:40; Acts 28:8).
  6. The apostles laid hands on some of the early church to bestow miraculous spiritual gifts (Acts 6:1-6, 8; 8:14-17; 19:6; 2 Tim. 1:6).

Please explain 1 Peter 3:21’s statement about baptism not removing dirt from the body but being an appeal to God for a good conscience.

Here’s the verse:  “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

Some say this verse teaches a person has a good conscience BEFORE baptism, thus indicating that salvation precedes baptism.  This is not what the passage is saying for several reasons.

First, a good conscience in itself is not necessarily proof of salvation (cf. Acts 23:1).  So even if it could be proved that the good conscience came before baptism, that would not necessarily prove that baptism is not necessary for salvation.

Also, the term “good conscience” could be descriptive of a sincere heart, thus talking about one earnestly seeking to obey God.  Such a person would obey the command to be baptized.

The verse specifically says that baptism saves you, so any view about the rest of the verse cannot negate that fact.  The water might cleanse dirt from your body, but it’s not the water that cleanses your soul from sin.  Only the blood of Christ does that (Matt. 26:28; Eph. 1:7; Acts 22:16).

Rather, baptism is an “appeal” (eperotema, a request, a craving) for a good conscience, a clear conscience, a request for forgiveness which is always immediately granted to the penitent believer (Acts 2:38; Mk. 16:16).  Thus, the good conscience (indicating that salvation and forgiveness have been granted) comes AFTER baptism.

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