• When Jesus says, “Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect,” does that mean we can attain perfection, and should we? Question and Answer

    There are a couple of things we need to understand about this statement. In the first place, the word that is translated “perfect” literally means “be complete.” So often, the New Testament and the Old Testament will describe people as being upright and righteous—not in the sense that they have achieved total moral perfection, but rather that they have reached a singular level of maturity in their growth in terms of spiritual integrity. However, in this statement, it’s certainly legitimate to translate it using the English word perfect. For example, “Be ye complete as your heavenly Father is complete.” Now … View Resource

  • In Numbers 14 it appears that Moses changed the mind of God. How can you explain this? Question and Answer

    Numbers 14:20

    “To change one’s mind,” in the New Testament, means to repent. When the Bible speaks of my repenting or your repenting, it means that we are called to change our minds or our dispositions with respect to sin—that we are to turn away from evil. Repent is loaded with these kinds of connotations, and when we talk about God’s repenting, it somehow suggests that God has to turn away from doing something wicked. But that’s not what is always meant when the Bible uses this word. Using the word repentance with respect to God raises some problems for us. When … View Resource

  • How does one convince a nonbeliever that the Bible is the Word of God? Question and Answer

    Before I try to answer that question directly, let me make a distinction that is important at the outset. There’s a difference between objective proof and the persuasion or conviction that follows. John Calvin argued that the Bible carries both persuasion and conviction in terms of its internal testimony—the marks of truth that could be found just by an examination of the book itself—as well as external evidences that would corroborate that substantial evidence to give solid proof for its being the Word of God. Yet the last thing people would want is a book telling them they are in … View Resource

  • Can you repent at the moment of death and still have the same salvation as someone who’s been a Christian for many years? Question and Answer

    Luke 23:42-43

    That’s a tricky question, but I think it’s a fascinating one and certainly one that many people are concerned about. We talk about foxhole faith, when people cry out in desperate moments of crisis or postpone to their deathbed the moment of committing their lives to Christ. Some people say that it doesn’t make sense for somebody who has been a Christian all their life to be in the same state as somebody who did as they pleased all their life and waited until the last second to get their accounts square with God. There’s a parable in the New … View Resource

  • How were the books of the Bible selected and compiled, and how were the decisions made as to what would be distributed as the Word of God? Question and Answer

    Even though we think of the Bible as being one book, it’s actually a collection of sixty-six books, and we realize that there was a historical process by which those particular books were gathered together and placed in one volume that we now know as the Bible. In fact, we call the Bible the canon of sacred Scripture. Canon is taken from the Greek word canon, which means “measuring rod.” That means it is the standard of truth by which all other truth is to be judged in the Christian life. There have been many different theories set forth over … View Resource

  • Is there a difference between being baptized with the Holy Spirit and being filled with the Holy Spirit? Question and Answer

    At times when we read the New Testament record of those who are baptized in the Spirit or filled with the Spirit, it seems that these terms are used interchangeably, that they refer to the same phenomenon. At other times there’s a little distinction that is not altogether clear in the text. Sometimes it seems that to discern the difference requires a knife sharper than the one I own. Let’s just go back and ask this question: What does the Bible mean by the term “baptized in the Holy Spirit”? In the New Testament there’s a distinction between being born … View Resource

  • Scripture says that Christ stated the unforgivable sin as being blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Can you expand on that, and how should I pray for someone committing that sin? Question and Answer

    Mark 3:28-29

    There’s a lot of confusion over the sin that Jesus says cannot be forgiven either in this world or in the world to come. Some people think that the unforgivable sin is murder because the Old Testament gives us such strong sanctions against murder and says that if a person has committed murder, even if he repents, he is still to be executed. Others believe that it’s adultery because adultery violates the union of two people. As gross as these sins may be, I don’t think they fit the description here because we see that King David, for example, who … View Resource

  • Did Jesus ever laugh? What do the Scriptures tell us about his character and sense of humor? Question and Answer

    I’ve heard some people answer this question in the negative by saying that laughter is always a sign of frivolity and a thinly veiled attempt to make light of things that are sober. They say life is a sober matter; Jesus is described as a man of sorrows. He’s described as one who was acquainted with grief. He walked around with enormous burdens upon him. Add to that the fact that there’s not a single text in the New Testament that explicitly says Jesus laughed. There are texts, of course, that tell us he cried. For example, John 13 tells … View Resource

  • Throughout the Bible we are told to fear God. What does that mean? Question and Answer

    Proverbs 9:10

    We need to make some important distinctions about the biblical meaning of “fearing” God. These distinctions can be helpful, but they can also be a little dangerous. When Luther struggled with that, he made this distinction, which has since become somewhat famous: He distinguished between what he called a servile fear and a filial fear. The servile fear is a kind of fear that a prisoner in a torture chamber has for his tormentor, the jailer, or the executioner. It’s that kind of dreadful anxiety in which someone is frightened by the clear and present danger that is represented by … View Resource

  • What does it mean for us to call God our Father? Question and Answer

    Matthew 6:9

    One of the most well-known statements of the Christian faith is the Lord’s Prayer, which begins with the words “Our Father which art in heaven.” This is part of the universal treasury of Christendom. When I hear Christians in a private gathering praying individually, almost every single person begins their prayer by addressing God as Father. There’s nothing more common among us than to address God as our Father. So central is this to our Christian experience that in the nineteenth century, there were some who said the basic essence of the whole Christian religion can be reduced to two … View Resource