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February 13, 2000

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Q/A Topics:
Study Bibles?

QUESTION:
i want to be very careful in how i learn since im still a young christian, do you think that it would be a bad idea to use a study bible, like with the study notes explaining what is supposedly the meaning of certain verses? i have a macarthur study bible my parents bought for me, and i have seen some of the exposes on him and the other big name preachers, so i dont read it...as i have questions on some things that bible says that i dont fully understand, should i only seek the answer from god, or is it okay to ask someone who is mature in the lord? i just want to make sure that i please the lord in what i do. thanks for any help

ANSWER:
I have personally never liked study Bibles. Years ago when I was a child, I inherited somebody's used Scofield Bible. Quite frankly, I never read any of the notes, and to me, all those headings and notes were more of a nuisance and "in the way". In more recent years I have tended to not even like Bibles that put paragraph or chapter 'subject' headings, because quite often, those are also wrong.

The Thompson Chain reference Bible doesn't clutter up the main text with notes, but I don't know that his notes are always accurate, either, but there is a lot of resource material there. MacArthur of course seems to have 'problems' of this sort or that... I've not read him myself (although I heard him interviewed on local Moody radio a few years ago, during which he suggested that the 70's was a time of "greatest revival among America's college youth" ..uuuh, that's 'my' generation, and all I remember about that time was the seeds of today's nose-diving apostasy!), but the exposes, if there is any truth to them, indicates some problems. And indeed, the very fact that his name is 'so Big', in and of itself, would tend to discredit him. The 'multitudes' of people tend to follow those who proclaim error. Of course, if you get a Jack Hayford Bible, he's a charismaniac.

One thing I have discovered through my life is that the Lord doesn't always answer -all- the puzzles for us all at once. If a person "reads through the whole Bible" once, he cannot claim to 'know it all'. I've heard some newer Christians 'boast' that they had now read through the Bible "three times", and they were feeling quite 'proficient' in their knowledge of God's Word. I started reading through the Bible, once a year, as soon as I could read as a child. As an adult I tend to take longer to get through, because I savor it more as I read, and tend to look up cross-references, and thus, don't "make tracks" numbering off the chapters-read. So, while I cannot tell you 'how many times' I've read through the Bible, I know it's a -LOT-. And yet, I am continually in awe of the "new things" I learn each time.

In learning God's Truth, it is not the study notes of man that clarify things for us. They actually more often muddy the waters. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit "will guide you into all truth.." (Jn16:13)

For many years I did not know "for sure" about the Rapture. I heard all the views, and saw the Scripture each view supported their ideas with, and I "tended to lean" in a certain direction because of how some 'men' taught it. But in my 'leanings' I was not fully convinced in my own heart...FOR SURE. But then around 1981 the Lord started opening my eyes, FROM HIS WORD, to the truth...even though I had read the Bible -thru- so many dozens of times up to that point. Similar revelation FROM HIS WORD came about regarding "Once Saved-Always Saved" about 4 years ago. There, again, I knew what various 'men' taught. But that only caused confusion, and I actually for many years believed the wrong doctrine...but that erroneous belief left so many "problem passages" that could not be answered/understood properly when holding to that view; and so would have to be 'explained' in order to conform to that view. But when the Holy Spirit clarifies something, the Scripture agrees with itself as a totality...and there are no 'problem passages'.

When Paul exhorts young Timothy that the Scriptures were "profitable" for "everything" necessary to the Godly life, he did not add "commentaries" to that. He said, "from a babe you have known the Holy Scriptures.." (2Tm3:14-17)

Every Believer has the Holy Spirit to teach us. You may puzzle over some passage/s for a period of time. Do not adopt a view, just in order to appear enlightened, and learn to argue the point, even if your heart is not sure. Be willing to admit "I don't know" until the Lord illumines you on the matter. Be a "Berean" who "searches the Scriptures daily" (Acts17:11) Remember that Daniel was struggling to understand some things he had seen in visions, and he sought answers. In that particular case the messenger with the answers was detained by the 'enemy' for "three weeks". (Dan8:3,13) In other cases, a 'young' Believer is not yet ready for the "solid food" (Heb5:12) but can only handle "milk" (1Pt2:2)

This is not to discredit the wisdom or maturity another Believer may be able to impart. After all, the Body is meant to nurture one another. Pastors and teachers (Eph4:11) are for teaching. The books of Timothy and Titus are about God's men "teaching" Sound Doctrine. But even that comes from God's Word, the Scriptures. (1Tm4:13, 2Tm2:15, Tit1:9, etc) Being 'Bereans'.

"But the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as His anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true and no lie, and as He has taught you, abide in Him." (1Jn2:27)

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Suicide

QUESTION:
I am writing to you because I have a great respect for your ministry. My question is about suicide. I received a booklet last night at church on suicide. It tells the story of a Pastor's son who had gotten involved in Dungeon's and Dragon's and listening to rock music. The boy left a note saying that he was not depressed "but he just wanted to try a new life". This pastor says that he knows without a shadow of a doubt that his son is in heaven. I would like to hear what your belief is on this matter of suicide. To me , it doesn't seem that he had a true relationship with the Lord. Why would he walk away and want to try another life? What about the scripture "Those who endure to the end shall be saved".

My real concern with this booklet is that it could lead many people astray, and that if someone wants to escape from his or her problem that all they have to do is take their own life and they will be with Jesus.

ANSWER:
First of all, regarding "suicide" generically, I cannot honestly suggest that Scripture teaches about it specifically one way or another. If it does, I haven't yet seen the passage/s that clarified the matter to my heart in no uncertain terms.

There are some who suggest that when it says, "But for...murderers... their part will be in the lake burning with fire and brimstone.." (Rev21:8) that that also refers to suicide. That taking one's -own- life is the same as "murder". We need to remember that merely -committing- murder does not send a person to judgment. David murdered Uriah, after he had committed adultery with Uriah's wife, and yet is called the one after God's own heart. He repented.

Some suggest that a person who would commit suicide is not trusting in God, taking their own life into their own hands and not waiting for God's "appointment" (Heb9:27) thus indicating a heart of unbelief, and judge such a person to not be a child of God. They also suggest that if a person is contemplating it due to "mental illness", that that also indicates an unregenerate heart, because a Christian will not have any kind of emotional/mental problems like that. That such problems, again, by definition, indicate an unbeliever.

However, having been there myself many years ago, I would suggest that people holding this latter view don't know what they are talking about. As a youth I was truly a Believer. I knew the Lord as my Savior. But also, as a youth, growing up in the environment that I did, I understand the mental torture (brainwashing??) that can be inflicted upon a "weak" or impressionable person (child/youth). And, while there is trust in the Lord, as far as the person has grown, or understands such trust; the external forces upon one's circumstances, which are totally out of the person's own control, from an extreme dominant overbearing abusive figure, for -many- years, seem so insurmountable and unbearable that the only -perceived- option 'out' of them is through death. This I know. I was there.

[And, along these same lines, I have to share with you all, when I see the accounts of some, like that boy who killed his father in Wyoming a few years ago after years of abuse (upon which a movie was based, what was it called? "A Time to Kill" ??), I "understand" what that boy and family were going through. What that movie portrayed was sooo like my experience in so many ways; had they increased the abuse factor about 3 or 4-fold from what they depicted, that would have been my life. I could just as easily have done the same thing. But, the difference was, I was a Christian. In spite of what I was going through, I knew that "ambushing" my father would have been "sin". (And yes, I had a mental plan all laid out, how I could have done it...) So, after considering it, weighing the options, and concluding it would be "sin", I made a conscious choice -NOT- to.]

Back to our topic... in my case the Lord was gracious and kept my suicide attempt from being successful, and subsequently made life more bearable. I don't know of any specific cases of Scripture to suggest that one who is 'successful' automatically receives God's judgment. God knows each heart. (Heb4:12)

However, in the example you gave, the person's own testimony is one of -not- following God. They were a slave to demonic spirits. The fruit of their heart seems obvious. To try to pretend that such a person "went to heaven" would be like suggesting that satan's name is to be found in the Book of Life. Scripture says otherwise. And satan's followers end up in the same place prepared for the "devil and his angels" (Mt25:41)

You reference the verse, "those who endure to the end shall be saved". Found in Mt10:22, 24:13, Mk13:13. This statement is actually in the context of persecution because one is a Believer. In that context, the word "end" could mean, To the end of that particular persecution; or even to the end of life, in death. As Jesus said to the Church of Smyrna "Be faithful until death and I will give you a crown of life." (Rev2:10)

And, further...where most translations say "be saved" actually more literally means "be kept safe". As Jesus said that "you should not fear the ones killing the body, but not being able to kill the soul." (Mt10:28) Even though persecution may end in death, that is not the end. God keeps that one safe as Christ 'stands' at the Father's right hand to receive that one into His presence. (Acts7:56)

And then... what about those accounts of 'martyrdom' where "Christians" willingly -jumped-into- the flames? One such case, if I am remembering correctly from Fox's "Book of Martyrs", a huge fire had been built, and Christians were being thrown into it, and this frail young girl was observed by spectators; as they wondered how -she- could endure such abuse, next thing they knew as they watched, she ran and jumped in. On another occasion, where a 'generic' martyrdom was occuring, and it had been announced to the populace; the fire was built and people were being thrown in; a man rode up on his horse, calling out in a loud voice something to the effect, "I hear there's a martyrdom going on today, you can't leave me out!" whereupon he got off his horse and dove into the flames. We are told that Jesus "gave" Himself to His abusers. (Is50:6) Are such people "martyrs", or were they "getting it over with" so they wouldn't have to undergo arduous, protracted tortures? ...much like a spy might bite into his poison capsule so as not to give away secrets to his captors? "Greater love than this has no one, that anyone should lay down his soul for his friends.." (Jn15:13) Does such an act fit this catagory as "suicide"? Questions... questions...

As you might be guessing by now, I don't know all the answers to these questions. I am so happy that it is our Lord Who knows each heart! He is the Just Judge!

Q/A -Is Suicide an Unpardonable Sin?
Mental Illness?

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Blessing God?

QUESTION:
I have a question for you. It's been bothering me for some time now that people will occasionally make reference to "Blessing God". A voice inside me says, "How can YOU bless God the Father Almighty creator ?" Isn't HE the one who blesses us at His will ? Is it Correct to use this Phrase "blessing God ?" Is it anywhere in the Bible? I haven't been able to find it yet... Thanks in advance for your help.

ANSWER:
A few years ago I received a lot of flack for berating the worship chorus "I Exalt You, I exalt You, Oh Lord...." While there are some passages that speak of "I will exalt you, O Jehovah" (Ps30:1) and "O bless God in the congregations, the Lord, from the fountain of Israel." (Ps68:26) or "Bless Jehovah, O my soul; and all within me, bless His holy name" (Ps103:1); the passage I have seen associated with that chorus on overhead transparencies is Ps92:8, 97:9 "But You, O Jehovah, are exalted forever...For You, Jehovah, are exalted above all the earth."

Would you not say, for the purposes of your question, that "exalt" and "bless" are quite similar?

Yes, I have to agree with you. While some Scriptures do speak of exalting or blessing God, we need to keep in mind that there are variations of how these words are defined. When Scriptures speak of "lifting up" the Lord, it is an expression of praise. -Holding- Him high in our thoughts and minds. But you are -quite- correct. We cannot -raise- God to the lofty heights where He inhabits, because as most Scriptures say, He -already- exists in that high place. After all, that was satan's lust, "I will rise over the heights of the clouds; I will be compared to the Most High." (Is14:14)

However, this is where charismania will bash anybody down who dares to "judge" their hearts' motives...when they typically teach doctrines that we are a bunch of "little gods". That God is 'impotent' unless we "release His power" through [our] prayers. And it is -that- mentality [of us being little 'gods'] that sways and swoons, "I exalt You". The mentality that 'releases' God's "power", also "elevates" God -to- His high place. If one confronts them with this, they vehemently deny it. But their actions and doctrines say otherwise.

This is a matter of Rom8:16 of the [Holy] Spirit "bearing witness" as to the Truth of the matter. If you affirm this to any of them, they will attack you. But a person who is truly indwelt by God's Holy Spirit knows that this is true. Yes, your concern is legitimate. That "voice" inside you is obviously the Holy Spirit.

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Dave Hunt articles "throwing the baby out with the bath water"?

Editorial Explanatory Comment from VW:

As of this past week the "tbc@cet.com" address has been deactivated. The "tbc" mailing list I was sending the monthly articles to is also now deleted from my computer. The reasons are related to Hunt's recent publicly-stated stance on "repentance". If you missed it, you can find the matter spelled out in the Discernment Archives... or look up "Berean Call" in the TopicSearch.

As there were all sorts of responses, ranging from unsubscribes from that list and further exposes of Hunt's errors in other matters, to anger at me for "judging" Hunt; there were a few comments of genuine "disappointment" that I had also removed all the back-issues of TBC articles going back to 1994 from VW's Library... suggesting that doing that was like "throwing the baby out..." since they are/were mostly good. That I should, instead, leave them there, including a "disclaimer".

Yes, over the years the monthly TBC articles have been tremendous. However, I must say that for the past couple of years I have been finding them somewhat.. uuuh.. 'lacking' in "something". 'Haven't been able to quite put my finger on exactly 'what'. I have read many of his books, and they, too, are tremendous. If you are wondering about modern psychology, "Seduction of Christianity" is a 'must read'. RCC? "A Woman Rides the Beast" is -the- modern-day authority on the subject. Regarding eschatology, "How Close are We?" is VERY good. I've not read "In Defense of Faith" and some others. "Occult Invasion" is very good, if only he would apply to his own life what he writes about!!

However, with his very clear words on "repentance", he is proclaiming a 'different gospel'. While he admits that repentance is "implied" in salvation, he claims that Scripture does not command us to preach it; therefore he does not, either. (Again Lk24:47, Acts17:30, etc.)

While it is one thing to link to other websites that are -mostly- good, but -may- contain questionable material, accompanying such link pages with 'disclaimers'...because those links go -to- those other sites; it is quite another for VW to post a series of articles as the TBC collections were. As good as most of those articles were, by association there is an -implied- "embracing" of TBC as a ministry, in full agreement; and of Dave Hunt as being someone with whom I could be having intimate spiritual fellowship. Somebody visiting VW's website, seeing such a vast collection, in spite of any disclaimers, would assume that TBC and Dave Hunt is "pretty much OK" ...after all, "VW posts all their articles". And most people don't discern and make distinctions. As it was, there was often confusion because of mailing the TBC articles... some people thinking that TBC and VW were 'related' ministries, in spite of the -lengthy- explanatory signature to the contrary, included with each mailing.

And so, if these 'questions' are -now- surfacing about the kind of gospel he is proclaiming...what will become exposed in the coming months? What happens after the Rapture, when I can no longer make changes to the website? By "association", VW would be -perceived- as supporting whatever gospel TBC might be proclaiming by that time.

Thus, a clean and -total- break was necessary. And no...don't anybody suggest that you want me to send you the article files so you can post them. That would be hypocrisy on my part, wouldn't it! Besides, those, too, have now been deleted from my laptop.

Amen!

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