Why does Paul address the church as “the church of God” rather than “the church of Christ”? (1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1) In these passages he is speaking to all the saints. Aren’t the saints the church of Christ?
Christ IS God (John 1:1, 14). Therefore, the terms “church of Christ” and “church of God” mean the same thing. The church which belongs to Christ belongs to God.
The term “church of Christ” is not the only biblical name given to the New Testament church (cf. 1 Cor. 1:2; Acts 9:2; Heb. 12:23; 1 Thess. 1:1; etc.)
The term “saints” comes from the Greek word hagios, which literally means “most holy thing” or “one sanctified.” One is sanctified through baptism into the church of Christ (1 Cor. 6:11; 12:13; cf. Eph. 1:22-23). Therefore saints make up the church/assembly/ekklesia of Christ, the church of God, the Lord’s church.
Why did Christ wither the fig tree (Mark 11:12-14, 20-25)? What was the symbolism behind it?
It wasn’t the season for figs, yet he thought the tree might have figs anyway because generally figs bloom before the leaves (v. 13). He miraculously withered it for two reasons:
- To show the apostles that they could perform miracles if they pray in faith (vs. 22-24; cf. Matt. 17:20) and with an attitude of forgiveness (v. 25)
- To show the symbolic parallel between the fig tree that falsely advertised through its leaves that it had fruit and the majority of the Jews who proclaimed themselves followers of God yet inside were spiritually bankrupt (cf. Hos. 9:10; Joel 1:7; Mic. 7:1-6; Mark 11:1-10, 15-18; Matt. 21-24; Rom. 2:17-24; 11:7ff).
Why did Jesus choose Judas as a disciple?
Jesus was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). That means that God knew ahead of time that Jesus would be betrayed by a friend, and planned it that way. Jesus himself knew this as well (John 13:18; cf. Ps. 41:9).
Why did Jesus choose Judas to begin with? Jesus knew what was in people’s hearts (John 2:24-25), so it is likely that Judas had as pure a heart as the other apostles whom Jesus chose at the beginning of his ministry. This would have been a man who had chosen to follow Jesus in the first place, thus volunteering to commit himself to the sacrifices involved following Jesus. Judas was one of the men whom Jesus had sent out two by two on the domestic missionary journey throughout Galilee (Matt. 10). Thus, Judas was likely a godly man at first.
However, over time his heart became corrupted. By the end of Jesus’ ministry, Judas had begun to steal from the group (John 12:6) and Satan had entered Judas’ heart. He began to plot his betrayal of the Lord at this time (Luke 22:3-6; John 13:2, 27).
Why did God plan that a close friend would betray the Messiah. I believe it was to teach us that we also, in spite of our own closeness to Christ, can and oftentimes do betray him.
Please explain blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
Jesus could perform miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:28). After witnessing him perform a miracle by the power of the Spirit, the hard-hearted Pharisees attributed what the Spirit did to Satan, thus blaspheming the Spirit (Matt. 12:24). The sin was unforgivable because their hearts were so hard that even witnessing a miracle done by the power of the Spirit couldn’t sway them (Mark 3:28-29).
Miracles done by the power of the Holy Spirit no longer take place, but we can still blaspheme the Holy Spirit today. You see, we have the Word of God through the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit in that the Spirit inspired the authors of Scripture (2 Pet. 1:19-21). When we willfully, stubbornly, and unrepentantly reject the Spirit-inspired Word of God, we insult the Spirit of grace and will not be forgiven (Heb. 10:26-31).
I have heard family, friends, and co-workers say that all they had to do was pray the Sinner’s Prayer and they were saved. Can you explain the Sinner’s Prayer and tell where one can find it in the Bible?
In a nutshell, the Bible never teaches that one must pray in order to be saved.
When asked, “What shall we do?”, Peter told those seeking salvation on Pentecost to repent and be baptized in order to be forgiven of sins (Acts 2:37-38). Note that he didn’t tell them to pray.
Likewise, Jesus said that faith and baptism save, not prayer (Mark 16:16).
After one obeys the gospel through confessed, heart-felt faith and penitent baptism into the body of Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:35-38; 2:38; Mark 16:16; 1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 5:23), one must penitently confess their sins to God through prayer in order to receive continual forgiveness (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9). However, the command to pray as part of the plan for salvation comes after salvation is initially obtained through faithful, penitent baptism…not before.