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December 28, 2007
August 11, 2009

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Q/A Topics:
Baptism for the dead?
    Re: 1Co15:29 Otherwise, what will they do who are immersed for the dead, if the dead are not truly raised? Why then are they immersed for the dead?
READER QUESTION:
I am trying to understand verse 29 in context, but so far, the meaning of the verse puzzles me. I understand the verses leading up to verse 29.....then I hit a roadblock at verse 29.....especially when it begins with 'otherwise.'

VW ANSWER:
The Greek is "huper" and if a person merely looks up the lexicon, it comes with "on behalf of, for, in stead of, etc." But when I looked it up in the Greek dictionary just now it also includes "concerning" and "to" or "toward"

In other words, it would be like many cultures would be towards new Christians. A person might reject the local pagan deities and -claim- to have become a Christian, and might receive verbal taunts and attempted persuasions to "put away the craziness", and such things. They might think that mere 'words' could simply be 'idle talk'. But when a new Believer was immersed, as we often say of it, in outward physical "testimony" of what has happened in the heart....the point of immersion would be the point at which the person's family might kick them out of the home, disinherit them, and/or when physical persecution might arise against them. And so, as Paul says....to death. As he says in vs30 "why are we in danger every hour?" In other words, when a person was immersed, they did so knowing that the next thing they might face was martyrdom.

Paul goes on to speak of fighting with animals (likely in the Roman colliseums), where there was always the possibility of losing to the animal. Thus the argument...if there is no resurrection, what is the point in being in jeopardy of death due to Faith in Christ?

He also says, "always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death because of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you." (2Co4:10-12)

READER:
Thank you so much - tying ICor15:29 together with 2Cor4:10-12 is extremely helpful in understanding verse 29.

Just yesterday I was reading something about the Mormons (our newspaper gave a brief synopsis of Mormonism because of Mitt Romney's speech today) and how they believe in 'baptism for the dead.' At that time, I kept on reading, but those words 'baptism for the dead' stuck in my mind. I'm pretty sure their 'baptism for the dead' does not refer to the intense persecution which might lead to potential martyrdom of a new believer unto Jesus.

VW:
The Mormons do it -for- the dead, in order to save them. That's part of what their whole 'genealogy' program is all about, so that they can find more names to 'save' (who hadn't been Mormons when they were alive) through their baptisms. The more times they are baptized, the more (dead) people get 'saved'. Theirs has nothing to do with persecution.

Hmmm... Different method, but same theory as Babylon of Rome does: beatifying the dead to make them into saints; and observing masses on behalf of the dead, to get them out of purgatory, etc.

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Talking to Mormons?

READER QUESTION:
Do you feel that the verse 2 John 1:10-11 --"If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." is to be applied to Mormons who come to your door? I have quite a few Mormons who come by to talk to me and I would like to witness to them but I've been told that this is not a good idea. One reason is because they are so well trained and also because of this verse. It seems to me that anyone who is not a believer is someone who comes to your door with a false doctrine of some kind. Should we not talk to anyone? I've been studying the Mormon beliefs and have asked them in to talk. I know that there are Mormons who have been saved from this false religion and maybe God could me in some way. But do you think that this verse is applying to such a situation?

VW ANSWER:
There is a difference between 'talking' with people and 'receiving' missionaries through your door. Indeed, all unbelievers of the world have various beliefs; but Paul also says that if we shun them all, we would "need to go out of the world" (1Co5:10) Such shunning that he exhorts is against the one "named a brother" (vs11) And in those conversations, people will often be willing to 'listen'...which can then be occasions for the Believer to witness for Christ.

But when they come to your door as 'missionaries', their purpose is -not- to 'listen', but to proclaim. That's what John is talking about. Notice the wording carefully... they "come to you"...they are seeking you out, to preach to you. That's what Mormon missionaries do. John says to NOT receive them into your house. And when they leave saying whatever "blessing" they like to give...do not respond in kind. I know some "christians" will close off their conversations with such people with a typical "God bless you". John says "nor speak a blessing to him" because if you utter such a "blessing" such a person "shares in their evils deeds"

READER:
Each time I talk to a Mormon I learn more about what I need to study.

VW:
No! No! No!

    De 12:30 take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you DO NOT INQUIRE AFTER THEIR GODS, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.
Or perhaps, you are studying Scriptures to counter their arguments? Then...

Yes! Yes! Yes!

But we are not to spend all our time delving into the depths of other beliefs. That's what they want you to do, by engaging you in dialog. But the True Believers of Thyatira are encouraged, "who have not known the depths of Satan" (Rev2:24)

There are various "discernment" entities that study every little last minutia of the cults.... We don't 'need' that much detail. If we spend our time studying the cults, it is that much time we are NOT in the Scriptures.

READER:
The last time I had a visit from them we talked about their prophets and I told them what the Bible says in discerning a false prophet, how a true prophet does not speak things from God that turn out to be false. But they said that this is not always true and brought up the prophet Jonah and how he proclaimed that Nineveh would be destroyed in forty days, yet this did not come true. I understand that God forgave Nineveh since they repented, but still the Mormons can use this to show that their prophets are just as true but in some cases God also decided to do something different than what He'd revealed to them. Can you think of a good responds to their thinking on that?

VW:
They are using 'apples' to defend 'oranges'. God has always been a compassionate God and "ready to forgive". (Ps86:5) And if they would listen to Jonah's whinings to God, "On account of this, I fled to Tarshish before, for I knew that You are a gracious Mighty God and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and One who is moved to pity regarding inflicting evil." (Jonah4:2)

God's heart can be summarized with

    "And Jehovah gives His voice before His army, for His camp is very great. For he who does His Word is strong. For the day of Jehovah is very great and terrifying, and who can endure it? YET EVEN NOW TURN TO ME WITH ALL YOUR HEART, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning, declares Jehovah." (Joel2:11-12)
God promises judgment, and yet pleads for the sinner to repent. God pronounced to Moses that He would wipe Israel from the face of the earth and make of Moses a nation; Moses pleads with God; and God listens to Moses. (Ex32:10~~) Did that make God's word to Moses a "false prophecy"? Silliness!

How do we know the totallity of what Jonah preached? He was proclaiming throughout the city. Did he not give a 'reason' for their imminent destruction? The text of the Scripture does not say. But I would suspect that case was like Peter's sermon on Pentecost...the text records certain words, and then also says,

    "And with MANY OTHER WORDS he testified and exhorted them, saying, Be saved from this perverse generation." (Ac2:40)
But it does not record -what- those "other" words were. Don't you suppose the same is the case with Jonah?

Jonah was not making a prophetic prediction, but a proclamation of impending judgment. God's ways are always to judge for sin, but when the sinner is repentant, He forgives.

    "Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, O backsliding Israel, says Jehovah; and I will not cause My anger to fall upon you; for I am merciful, says Jehovah, and I will not keep anger forever." (Jer3:12)

Related: What to do about Mormon missionaries at the door?

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Pre-mortal life in Heaven?

READER QUESTION:
How would you answer this Mormon? This is what he wrote:

    "But what do we learn if we don't fight shoulder to shoulder as we did in our pre-mortal life with Christ?
I asked him what???? He wrote back this...I know it has to be twisted but you're a better answerer than I am. ;)
    "There is plenty of evidence from within the Bible as well as other ancient sources to suggest that the idea of a "preexistence" is in harmony with gospel doctrines. Paul wrote:

    "Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? (Hebrews 12:9.)

    "Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and manís device. (Acts 17:29; italics added.)

    "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. (Romans 8:17.)"

I would think formed in my mother's womb would be a good answer to no pre-existence...

Father in first verse is our regular dads, right? 2nd verse seems totally unrelated and so does the third...

VW ANSWER:
I wrote an answer, and then decided to google with the words "pre-mortal mormon"; and when I discovered the gist and essence of this doctrine, deleted what I wrote and started from scratch. First link google displayed: check out this link

http://lds.about.com/od/basicsgospelprinciples/p/pre-existence.htm

In this teaching, to quote from the top paragraph, "we lived as spirits before we were born". But to continue, we needed to be 'tested' to see if we would choose good or evil. Thus God set up a plan of "salvation", and there was a struggle between Jesus and Satan. The "third" who fell with satan were not the angels/demons (Re12:4, Lk10:18) like we understand... but the third of pre-mortal human spirits who decided to follow satan. Which, also, does not agree with the "few" who go to Life, and the "many" on their way to destrcution. (Mt7:13-14)

If Noah was "one of eight", out of the world's population, and Lot (like in the days of Noah) was "one" out of Sodom....how does one reconcile the mormon "third" or "two-thirds". If a "third" followed satan, then two-thirds should be righteous (good). But that's not the present reality in the world, is it. "...the -whole- world lies in wickedness" (1Jn5:19)

But the key answer is in Genesis. The mormons say that it was first a 'spiritual' family in Heaven, and -then- the spirits were given bodies. But what does the Bible say?

    Ge2:7 And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
Notice that the "dust of the ground" (body) is first, and then God breathed "breath (spirit) of life" into this body, and man became a living soul. And we know that the soul is in the blood (Le17:11)...thus, in a sense, the soul is also 'body'. But the spirit is what is in charge...because it was when God breathed the spirit into the body, that it then became a living -whole-, with soul.

God also made man on the earth and put him in charge. (Ge1:26-29) As it says

    Isa 45:12 I have made the earth, and created man -on- it;
It doesn't say that man was first made "in heaven" and then brought to earth to join up with new bodies. That scenario will only be happening at the Resurrection when the spirits of the righteous -dead- will be brought 'back' (where they had been before the physical death of the body) to join up with their new resurrected bodies. (1Th4:14)

And when God is in sorrow over His creation He says....

    Ge 6:6 And Jehovah regretted that He had made man on the earth,
Nowhere does Scripture say that man existed in Heaven first...and then God -moved- man to earth by giving the spirits bodies. He "made man -on- the earth". Earth was man's point of origin. God used the "dust of the ground" to make the body first. Then, God breathed into the body He had just formed. God's plan was to make man, and created earth as man's home. Earth was made -for- man. And then from there, man procreated. (Ge1:28) God did not make a WHOLE BUNCH of bodies for all the spirits He brought to earth. He made man from the dust. He made Eve from Adam's rib. And the rest of humanity came into being from Adam and Eve procreating, and mankind continuing that process for the past 6000 years.

Humanity, after the fall, has all been conceived in the sinful state.

    " Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Ps51:5)
We did not start out righteous in Heaven.
    "there is none righteous, no not one" (Ro3:10)
We have not yet seen God....as would presumably be the case if we had originated in Heaven.
    "No one has seen God at any time" (Jn1:18, 1Jn4:12)
We were formed in the womb
    Ps139:13For You have possessed my inward parts; You covered me in my motherís womb. 14 I will give thanks unto You, for I am awesomely and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my embryo, and in Your book I was enrolled, and all my days had been preordained, when as yet there was nothing.
If the person's -spirit- already pre-existed, (and that article also claims that spirit is comprised of substance) the statement that "there was nothing" would not be a true statement. After Adam and Eve, the -origin- is in the mother's womb.....-on- this earth.

To be "preordained" is not the same as "pre-existed". Preordain is the -plan-, based on God's foreknowledge (Rom8:29) for the person...-before- the person 'exists'.

I don't know all the finer points of Mormonism, and there were more details in the link on this subject. In fact, this was the first I had heard of "pre-existence" in -spirit-, in a non-reincarnational context. But this matter does not need fine-tooth-combing to strain out subtle nuances. One does not need to dig 'deep'. This doctrine is soooo overtly twisted... there is not even a smidgen of similarity with Scripture. And like other observations we make: if the premise is false, the conclusion is also false. If the premise of this doctrine is so way out in left field, no other subtlties, details or explanations will make it right.

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What are Saints?

READER QUESTION:
Who are saints? Col1:2 and Rev20 was where we were reading trying to figure out a definition. Our preacher tells us that we are all saints because we have been sanctified. Can you give me to the definition of a saint? Thanks soooooo much for your service. You've helped me to learn so much over the years.

VW ANSWER:

  • "Sanctified" is the Greek hagiazo (Heb10:10)
  • "saint" is hagios (Rom1:7, Col1:2, Rev20)
  • "holy" is hagios (1Pt2:9)

    Paul in his greeting says, "...beloved of God, called saints" (Rom1:7)

    In English:

  • sanctify is the -act- (verb) of setting apart
  • holy is the definition (adjective), the state of being set apart
  • saint is the person (noun) who has been set apart, who is holy

    By definition, a saint is a holy person. And a holy person (saint) is one who has been sanctified (set apart). And if we take from the one example given above (Scripture proliferates it), a saint is one who is "beloved of God"; or as we speak regularly: a [C]hristian, a Believer. In other words all [C]hristians are "saints".

    A saint is not someone "beatified" by the pope. -EVERYONE- who has died "in Christ" (1Th4:16) is a saint. And also, -ALL- (living) [C]hristians are saints. The pope didn't do it...Jesus Christ did, when he "washed us from our sins in His own blood" (Re1:5) and we "received" Him. (Jn1:12)

    Holiness is not indicated by a 'halo' over our heads, upward turned blank gazes, palms together fingers pointed upwards; but is observed by us being "holy in all -CONDUCT-" (1Pt1:15)

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    Make Disciples?

    READER QUESTION:
    Ref.: Matt.28:19 I read in lexical aids to the N.T. by Spiros Zodhiates (The complete word study, N.T.) that Matheteuo 3100: "It is really not sufficient to translate this verb as 'learn' but as 'making a disciple' in its translation meaning in the N.T." Hopefully I have the spelling correct. Please help me to understand the correct meaning.

    VW ANSWER:
    In the Greek it is a verb. But the word "disciple" in English is a noun. It is a "follower or one who helps promote the ideologies of the one being followed". It comes originally from the Latin for pupil. What would be a verb form of disciple? Would it not be to discipline....the qualities involved in being a pupil...of long-term learning.

    In terms of Jesus Christ, how is a disciple 'made'? By repentance and faith. On the part of whom? The one preaching and persuading? Or is it a heart matter between the sinner and God? Man cannot 'save' another, thus to 'make' them into a disciple of Jesus. Only Jesus saves. Thus, by definition, it is Jesus who "makes" a person into a disciple.

    But the word is not about -becoming- a disciple, but of helping another along in -being- a disciple.

    As for teaching, are there not a couple of levels of teaching? Perhaps a 'surface', maybe 'one-time' event. But what is the nature of discipline? Is it not an ongoing process of learning. Is not a catch-all term for that "instruction"...or something similar?

    If a person transliterates, and forces the noun to be a verb, and says "disciple all nations" (LITV), that is not the same as "make disciples" (darby, ALT, nasb, nkjv, niv) But also "teach" (geneva, kjv, mkjv) is perhaps a lesser choice when vs20 also has a different word that means "teaching". Thus "instruct" was chosen for the VW-edition. Teaching is more a -present- (momentary) activity, whereas instruction is an on-going teaching process. Splitting hairs? Well... precise words have precise meanings...and different words also have different 'flavors'.

    The famous evangelists preach a sermon, lead in a prayer, give out some literature and: Be seein' ya, B'bye! That is not Jesus' "commission". His commission is to train new Believers to help them grow. As Paul did, after the first missionary journey, they went back to those new believers to "see how they are holding on" (Ac15:36) And Paul would spend 'time' (Ac19:9-10) in various places establishing and confirming the churches.

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