January & February 2020 Bible Questions & Answers

  1.  If a testament only goes into effect after the death of the testator, then who died to authorize the effect of the Old Testament (Heb. 9:16-17)?
  2. The Bible says that we may be entertaining angels unawares.  What about demons and demon possession?
  3. The Bible says it’s appointed unto man once to die.  What about the people who were raised from the dead, like Lazarus?
  4. When did Jesus realize that He had miraculous powers?  Mary asked Him to help at the wedding feast.  This somewhat implies that she had seen His wonders before.
  5. Does God speak to us in dreams?
  6. Jesus had siblings.  Were these Mary’s children?
  7. What does the Bible teach about instrumental music in worship?
  8. If I’m not in church, can I praise God with instrumental music?
  9. We know that God allows the devil to kill (John 10:10), yet protects in situations like Job.  God kills in cases like the flood and Sodom.  How can we know if a death is of God or the devil?

If a testament only goes into effect after the death of the testator, then who died to authorize the effect of the Old Testament (Heb. 9:16-17)?

Hebrews 9:16-17 was referenced in the question.  Let’s examine the verses which follow.  In them the writer of Hebrews shows that the first covenant – the Old Testament – was inaugurated with the blood of animals (9:18-22).  He then wrote of how this was a copy, or foreshadowing, of the greater and better spiritual truths of the New Testament (Heb. 9:23-10:1).

Thus, Moses’ law did require death, the death of animals.  However, it was meant to be a type or shadow of the complete salvation offered to man in the New Testament through Christ’s death.  This was to show the superiority of the New Testament, in that animals’ deaths could not forgive sins as Christ’s death did.

The Bible says that we may be entertaining angels unawares.  What about demons and demon possession?

There are several differences between angelic interaction with man and demonic interaction with man.  Angels interacted with men in Old Testament times (cf. Gen. 18-19), but there is no record of demon possession in the Old Testament.  The New Testament implies that angels continue to interact with man, albeit in an unknown way (Matt. 18:10; Heb. 1:14; 13:2), whereas both Testaments show that demonic possession was only a temporary phenomenon (Zech. 13:1-2; Heb. 2:14-15; 1 John 3:8).

To elaborate, Christ was sent to save the lost (Lk. 19:10) “in the fullness of time” (Gal. 4:4), i.e., at the right time.  To save us, He had to destroy both the devil (Heb. 2:14-15) and his works (1 John 3:8)…all his works.  Thus, God allowed demon possession during this time to show Christ’s complete authority over Satan in all realms, including the spiritual (cf. Lk. 4:35-37; Matt. 12:22-29).  The purpose of miraculous demonic expellation (Mk. 16:17) was to confirm the Word of God that was being preached (Mk. 16:20).  Once the Word was completed, miracles would cease (1 Cor. 13:8-10; cf. Rom. 12:2; James 1:25).  That took place 2,000 years ago.  Thus, demonic possession stopped at the same time, as was prophesied in the Old Testament (Zech. 13:1-2).

The Bible says it’s appointed unto man once to die.  What about the people who were raised from the dead, like Lazarus?

Being raised from the dead is a miracle.  A miracle by definition is something that goes against the laws of nature established by God in the beginning.  The laws of nature established by God in the beginning appoint death to come to mankind once (Heb. 9:27).  Miraculous resurrection from the dead goes against that law, thus allowing people like Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter to be the exception to the rule.

After their miraculous resurrection was completed, they would again be subject to natural law and thus eventually die without resurrection until judgment comes as God also decreed (John 12:10-11; Heb. 9:27; cf. 1 Thess. 4:13-18).  Jesus is called “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20, 23; Rev. 1:5; Col. 1:18) because He is the first to die and be raised never to die again (Rev. 1:18).  At judgment the faithful will likewise be raised never to die again.

When did Jesus realize that He had miraculous powers?  Mary asked Him to help at the wedding feast.  This somewhat implies that she had seen His wonders before.

John specifically said that turning water into wine at the wedding feast was “the first of his signs” (John 2:11).  Thus, Mary would not have seen her Son perform any sort of miracle before.  However, she would still have already associated the miraculous with her Son for several reasons.  She was told from the beginning that He was the Son of God (Lk. 1:32, 35), and so would naturally conclude He was capable of miracles.  Both His birth and His cousin’s birth were completely miraculous in nature (Lk. 1:18, 34-37).  Supernatural and miraculous events took place during the time in which He was born (Lk. 2:8-20; 25-38; Matt. 2:1-15).

As to when Jesus realized that He had miraculous powers, the Bible does not specifically say.  Several possibilities are given from the Bible.  At age 12 He apparently knew that God was His Father (Lk. 2:49).  That could have been inherent knowledge due to His being deity (John 1:1, 14) or taught knowledge given to Him by Mary and Joseph (Lk. 2:40, 52).  At age 30 He apparently already understood that it was right for Him to be baptized by John, acknowledging that John spoke of Him being superior (Matt. 3:13-15).  So perhaps He knew of His deity (and thus knew of His miraculous ability) throughout His life.

It must also be pointed out that at His baptism, the Spirit of God remained on Him without measure and He heard God’s voice call Him His Son (Matt. 3:16-17; John 1:32; 3:34).  Having the Spirit without measure implies the ability to perform all kinds of miracles was given to Him at that time (cf. 1 Cor. 12:1-11), so perhaps He knew then.

Does God speak to us in dreams?

He did in biblical times (Gen. 20:3-7; Num. 12:6; Acts 9:10-16; 10:9-16).  Yet now He speaks to us through His Son (Heb. 1:1-).  Jesus spoke what His Father had given Him to speak (John 12:49-50).  After He left, the Holy Spirit took what He heard from Jesus and gave it to the apostles and prophets (John 16:12-15), who in turn wrote it in Scripture (1 Cor. 2:9-13; Eph. 3:3-5; 2 Pet. 1:19-21; cf. 2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Thus, when we read the Bible we are reading a message from the Lord (1 Cor. 14:37; 2 Sam. 23:2).  The Bible is how God the Father – through Jesus and the Holy Spirit – speaks to us today.  Since the Bible claims to be sufficient for all our spiritual needs (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3), there is no need for any other form of communication from God.

Jesus had siblings.  Were these Mary’s children?

Yes.  Mary remained a virgin until after Jesus’ birth, at which time she and Joseph consummated their marriage (Matt. 1:24-25).  Thus, Jesus’ brothers and sisters would have been Joseph and Mary’s children (Mk. 6:3).

What does the Bible teach about instrumental music in worship?

The question of instrumental music in worship fundamentally boils down to divine authority (Col. 3:16-17).  Acceptable worship is worship which is “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).  Truth is defined as God’s Word (John 17:17).  God’s Word says not to add to it or take away from it (Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:6; 1 Cor. 4:6; Gal. 1:6-10; Rev. 22:18-19).  Thus, worship in truth is worship which is according to nothing more or less than God’s Word.

In order to rightly divide God’s Word (2 Tim. 2:15), one must recognize the differences between the Old and New Testaments.  The laws and practices of the Old Testament were replaced with the laws and practices of the New Testament when Christ died (Heb. 8:6-13; 9:15-17; Col. 2:14; Eph. 2:14-16).  Singing praises with instrumental accompaniment was done in the Old Testament (Ps. 150:3-5; 2 Chr. 29:25).  Yet in the New Testament, singing is the only thing mentioned when it comes to musical worship of God (Matt. 26:30; Mk. 14:26; Acts 16:25; Rom. 15:9; 1 Cor. 14:15; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb. 2:12; 13:15; James 5:13).

Thus, the only type of music authorized in New Testament worship of God is singing, a capella (“the way of the church”).  Since we are under the New Testament rather than the Old, musical worship of God which is “in truth” (John 4:24) – according to God’s Word – will be the singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

If I’m not in church, can I praise God with instrumental music?

The New Testament speaks of Christians worshiping together in a church assembly (1 Cor. 14:26ff; Heb. 2:12), and also speaks of Christians worshiping outside of the assembly (James 5:13; Acts 16:25).  In both situations, worship which is acceptable to God will be worship done “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24) – worship done solely according to the precepts of God’s Word.

The New Testament never commands or shows Christians worshiping with instrumental accompaniment.  In both worship assemblies and private situations, singing praises is all that’s mentioned (cf. James 5:13; Acts 16:25).  Worship is something that is done with intent (cf. Gen. 22:5).  Thus, if you’re outside of church and your intention is to worship God in a musical fashion, do so “in truth”: according to His revealed will in the New Testament, via singing.  Otherwise, your worship will be in vain (Matt. 15:7-9).

We know that God allows the devil to kill (John 10:10), yet protects in situations like Job.  God kills in cases like the flood and Sodom.  How can we know if a death is of God or the devil?

The thief mentioned in John 10:10 is not the devil.  Jesus defines the thief as “all who came before me” (v. 8), a reference to the Jewish religious leaders of his day who were leading the people astray in an effort to become rich (v. 1; cf. 9:40-41).  Thus, the thief in John 10:10 would refer to those whom the devil was using for his purposes, but not necessarily to the devil himself.  The killing mentioned in John 10:10 is in contrast to the abundant (eternal) life Jesus was offering, thus making the death resulting from the killing spiritual in nature rather than physical.  The killing done by the thief (the religious leaders of Jesus’ day) was spiritual in nature due to the error towards which they were leading the Jews.

The only instance which comes to mind concerning Satan taking physical life is a situation in which God specifically forbade him to take life (Job 2:6).  We also know that death comes due to sin entering the world (Gen. 2:17).  Oftentimes it is the result of sinful actions of ourselves or others (e.g., Ex. 11-12; 1 Kings 22:17-24).  So it could be said that Satan indirectly had a hand in it, but one’s own culpability should not be ignored.

We do know that God has taken life or allowed life to be taken as punishment for sin (e.g., Gen. 13:6-11; 1 Kings 13:20-26) or as a reward for the righteous (Is. 57:1-2; cf. Lk. 16:25; Ps. 116:15).  Yet the reason we know any of this is because it has been revealed in God’s Word as the specific, implied, or likely reasons for deaths in specific situations.  Without further revelation, of which none will be forthcoming (Jude 3), there is no way for us to know why a particular death has taken place and which supernatural being, if any, is responsible or had a role to play in it behind the scenes (Deut. 29:29).