Bible Q & A with Gospel Minutes

Bible Questions and Answers – Does God Have a Body?

“Brother Thurman: God is a Spirit, but doesn’t he have a shape or body parts, such as hands, face, eyes, ears, etc.? Are we not fashioned after Him?  D.W., TX”

God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24). “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15). We can tell from these verses that God is fundamentally different from those He created. He is a spirit and is invisible. The Lord God “alone possess immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1
Timothy 6:16). Obviously, God is not like the creation. After all, God existed before He created anything. That is, before there was matter, God existed. That means He is not made of matter and is not bound by physical limitations as we are.

We are told that God has a face (2 Chronicles 6:42), that He has hands (Isaiah 59:1), that he had a back, because Moses could not look God in the face and live, and instead could only glimpse the Lord’s back (Exodus 33:18-23). However, most of these references are probably using poetic license to try to make an unapproachable deity more approachable. We do the same when we speak of the face of the mountain, or the eyes of big brother, or the hands of industry. None of us really think a mountain has a face or that industry has literal hands or that the government has actual eyes. These are all phrases we use to make the unfathomable more fathomable.

Yes, we are indeed created in God’s image. (more…)

Bible Questions and Answers – Holy Spirit or the Word?

“Dear Editors: A preacher claimed that you people at GOSPEL MINUTES do not believe the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian separate and apart from the word of God. Please reply.

– S.G., PA”

If this preacher read our paper carefully, he would not have been so quick to point out what we believe, nor be as wrong in his conclusion. I don’t like that phrase, “Separate and apart from the word,” for it means different things to different people. How about this instead, “Do you believe that the Holy Spirit actually dwells in Christians?” I have no hesitancy in answering with a resounding, “Yes!”

Let me show you the problem with the phrase, “Separate and apart from the word.” If someone asked you, “Do you believe Christ saves people today, separate and apart from the word of God”, how would you answer? If you answer “Yes” that would be a denial of what God said in Romans 1:16, “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.” But if you answer “No” that implies that Jesus Christ is not really involved in saving people today. That same basic problem is found with that phrase when used with regard to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Christian. The question comes, “How does the Holy Spirit dwell in Christians?” And the truth is I have yet to find the man who understands how his own spirit dwells in him! So, let’s forget the catchphrase and just look at the Bible.

I firmly believe the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian, for the Bible says so: “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him” (Acts 3:38-39). Compare that with Acts 5:32, “And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey him.” Or, again: “And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6). These texts show that when people become Christians, God gives them the Holy Spirit. Now add Acts 2:41, “They then that received his word were baptized; and there added (unto them) in that day about three thousand souls.” Notice the order: Only those who believed and repented were baptized, and only those who were baptized received the Holy Spirit. They received the word, they were baptized, they then received the Holy Spirit. Thus, the reception of the word and reception of the Holy Spirit were two different things. (more…)

Jesus Saved Before Church Built?

“Dear brother Clem: Since you claim that one must be in the church to be saved, and that the church was established in Acts 2, then Jesus Christ could not have been saved, for he died before the church was established. How do you get around this fact? – V.W., KY”

“This fact” – as it is called, is not a fact at all. First of all, Jesus never sinned, and therefore was never lost, so He did not need to be saved. Second, He promised to build His church (Matthew 16:18), and He purchased that church with His own blood (Acts 20:28). So the church could not have been “purchased” before the death of Jesus. Jesus is the head of that church, which is His body (Ephesians 5:23), and He is the Savior of that body. Not only that, but He is the Savior of all who are saved (2 Timothy 1:10). When one is saved, the Lord adds Him to His church (Acts 2:47). Christ is the head of that church, so He never needed to be added to it.

The time of the establishment of the church has nothing to do with the salvation of Jesus. He could not have been saved before or after Pentecost, in or out of the church. ThatChurchPurchasedWithBlood which is not lost cannot be saved. Jesus had no sin, else He could not have redeemed us: “Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). And again, “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps; who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:21-22). Had Jesus been guilty of sins, He could not have cleansed us from our sins. Had He stood in need of salvation, he could not have become our Savior. Jesus was not saved before, nor after Pentecost, for He had no sin and thus had no need for salvation. – Clem Thurman

Excerpted from Volume 63, Number 22 of Gospel Minutes. Gospel Minutes is a publication originating from Forth Worth, Texas; Clem Thurman, Co-Editor, David Thurman, Co-Editor.

Jesus and Christ Pagan?

“We have a book here that claims the name Jesus should be Joshua and that both Jesus and Christ both come from pagan rituals. Could you comment? – A.S., MS”

Jesus is a Greek word. It does indeed correspond with the Hebrew word, Joshua. And, the name was not uncommon until one unique individual was given that name. “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The Son of God was given that name because of what it indicates, that He will be a Savior to the world. Although other people were named Joshua and Jesus, the Jesus of the New Testament is unique.

The same principle applies to the term Christ. This is also a Greek word that translates the Hebrew word, Messiah. The Messiah was the chosen one, picked by God to redeem and lead His people. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, the New Testament in Greek. So, many of the concepts from the Old Testament took on Greek names and meanings. But, again, this title is given, not by pagan religions (some of whom may have used the terms) but by God. “Today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). – David Thurman

Excerpted from Volume 63, Number 3 of Gospel Minutes. Gospel Minutes is a publication originating from Forth Worth, Texas; Clem Thurman, Editor, David Thurman, Associate Editor.

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Bible Questions and Answers – Israel’s “Right” to Palestine

“Dear brother Clem: I am confused about all of the problems of Israel and the Palestinians. I have friends who tell  me that the Bible gives Israel the right to all of Palestine. Is this true?

– B.G., OH”

God made several promises to Abraham, of which the main three deal with the nation of Israel, the promised land (Canaan) and the Christ (who was to be “the seed” of Abraham). Let’s look at the promise regarding the land. “I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land of thy sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession. And I will be their God” (Genesis 17:8). Moses later spoke of this promise to the nation of Israel, as Abraham’s descendants: “All this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it forever” (Exodus 32:13). But still later, Moses showed that the “forever” part of this promise was conditional.

God showed Israel that, if they did not do as He directed, the land would be taken away from them: “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil … But if thy heart turn away, and thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish; ye shall not prolong your days in the land, whither thou passest over the Jordan to go in to posses it. I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed” (Deuteronomy 30:15-19). Notice that God’s promise that the land would belong to Israel was valid only as long as they served God. If they turned their backs on Him, He would allow other people to drive them from that land. And when they did turn from God, they were driven out.

After the death of Moses, God selected Joshua to be the leader of Israel. It was under his leadership that the Israelites were brought into the land of Canaan (what it now called “Palestine”). Near the close of his life, Joshua declared: “So Jehovah gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. And Jehovah gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers; and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; Jehovah delivered all their enemies into their hand. There failed not aught of any good thing which Jehovah had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass” (Joshua 21:43-45) Notice that last part again: “There failed not aught … All came to pass.

Later, Joshua told Israel, “Ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which Jehovah your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, not one thing hath failed thereof” (Joshua 23:14). Lest some should say, either then or now, that God owed the land to Israel, Joshua forcefully points out that God had kept every one of His promises. He didn’t say simply that God would keep the promises. He said He HAD kept them. All of God’s promises regarding the land of Canaan (Palestine) were fulfilled in Joshua’s lifetime. There remains no more such promises to be fulfilled today. (more…)

Bible Questions and Answers – Blaspheme the Holy Spirit

“Dear brother Thurman: In a moment of weakness I was tempted to curse the Holy Spirit. Now, based on Matthew 12:32 I am afraid I will lose my soul. Have I sinned in such a way I cannot be forgiven? – C.S., CO”

He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:30-32). Jesus is speaking to people who are rejecting Him as Messiah. He tells them that they can reject Him but they better not reject the Spirit. Why? Because the Spirit was giving ample evidence Who Jesus was. The miracles, the healings, the powerful demonstration of God’s presence with Jesus should convince them He is the Christ. If they reject that evidence, they have blasphemed against the Spirit and cannot be saved. They are not beyond redemption. But as long as they reject the evidence concerning Jesus they cannot be saved.

This is still true. If we reject Who Jesus is, we will not be saved. When we ignore the clear evidences of the Spirit as to the nature of the Son of God, we will not be saved by the Son of God. But, if we embrace that evidence and trust it, we can always be saved. So, a moment of weakness in which you considered saying something hateful about God or Jesus or the Spirit, is not beyond forgiveness. The only ones beyond forgiveness are those who reject the only path to forgiveness, Jesus the Christ, the Son of God. – David Thurman

Excerpted from Volume 61, Number 19 of Gospel Minutes. Gospel Minutes is a publication originating from Forth Worth, Texas; Clem Thurman, Editor, David Thurman, Associate Editor.

Bible Questions and Answers – Profaning the Lord’s Name

“Dear brother Clem: What does the Bible say about profaning the Lord’s name? What of the habit of some people exclaiming, ‘Lord, have mercy,’ or just saying, ‘Good Lord’? – T.H., GA”

Let us see some commands regarding this: “And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, and profane the name of thy God: I am Jehovah” (Leviticus 19:12). “They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God” (Leviticus 21:6). “And that they profane not my holy name: I am Jehovah” (Leviticus 22:2). “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables. And exercise thyself unto godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7). “But shun profane babblings: for they will proceed further in ungodliness” (2 Timothy 2:16).

The verb, “profane,” means “to make common or unholy, to desecrate, to pollute.” To profane the name of the Lord, then, is to use His name in a way that is common or degrading or unholy. And surely, not just proper names such as Jesus or Jehovah is meant. To profane “Christ” or “God” or “the Lord” would be just as bad.

The use of the Lord’s name in “by-words” or in slang expressions is profaning His name. The use of the Lord’s name in a casual or flippant way also profanes His name. And to casually say, “Lord, have mercy” is profaning His name, unless we really mean it. The Lord is good, but to make a thoughtless habit of saying, “Good Lord,” would be profane. When we use the name of the Lord, it should be with reverence and sincerity.

It’s very easy to fall into the habit of using te Lord’s name (or the equivalent thereof) in a thoughtless way that profanes it. For instance, a friend of mine once preached a sermon on the use of “by-words.” He pointed out that “golly” was derivative of “God Almighty,” that “gee” was derived from “Jesus” and so forth. Then, thinking of another point, he said, “Oh, by the way…” I later asked him if he had read John 14:6, where Jesus said, “I am the way“? I never got an answer. It is difficult to be consistent in all things. But we should try. And the habit of such slang expressions should be broken. All of us would be better for it. – Clem Thurman

(Made me think of the commonly heard phrase O.M.G. and other not mentioned words EA)

Excerpted from Volume 61, Number 39 of Gospel Minutes. Gospel Minutes is a publication originating from Forth Worth, Texas; Clem Thurman, Editor, David Thurman, Associate Editor.