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April 20, 2003

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Q/A Topics:
By His stripes (Is53:5)

READER QUESTION:
When I read "and by His stripes we are healed" I feel he is talking about salvation, versus physical healing. What do you think?

VW ANSWER:
Good point...

14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he may have committed sins, they will be forgiven him." (Jac5:14-15)

In many cases there -is- a connection between the physical and spiritual. Yes, in some cases a person's deformity was primarily for the glory of God (Jn9:1-3), not their own fault. And in Paul's case his "thorn" was a God-given means of 'self-control' against pride. (2Cor12:7-9) But in most cases illness was related to sin, such as: "Behold, you have been made well. Sin no more, that a worse thing not come upon you." (Jn5:14)

Notice in that famous "healing" passage that the so-called 'faith-healers' proclaim, that it doesn't say to pray for them, and they will be "healed", but it says that the prayer of faith will "SAVE" the sick...and that their sins will be "forgiven".

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Passover Pesach "Christian seder"?

READER QUESTION:
I just wanted your opinion on the following basic seder . I took this one off the net afet [sic] searching google.com for "christian seder" I wondered how much of it was tradition and biblical. eg iI saw a n egg used , but seem to not see that in scripture?

[VW Note: This was your typical "seder" with all the little sayings, prayers, candle lightings, cups, etc]

VW ANSWER:
Well...the name "passover seder for Christians"....even the title has a lot wrong with it. Since Christ has died "once for all" and fulfilled Passover, there is no more need to observe it. That was the Old Covenant...but Christ instituted the "New Covenant" in His blood. (Lk22:20, 1Cor11:25, Heb12:24) The the "seder" (meaning "order") was not so-named through Moses. Where Passover centered around the 'lamb'...the New Covenant centers around the 'Bread' of Life.

Whether the so-called "seder" is observed by Christians or Jews, there is much wrong with it. Many of the little sayings they repeat year after year are not found in Scripture. It has become, to those who observe it, much as many catechisms are today in many denominations...where the important thing is the ritual...which seems to overshadow God's Word. There may not be anything wrong with those things they say, nor the rituals of hiding the middle layer of the unleavened bread, and all the symbolisms when the child finds it, etc. But it is like those rituals and sayings bear more weight than the Scriptures. The "haggadahs" are written by men. And the whole concept of "Christians" partaking in seders all over the place, has become like a 'cult' unto itself...almost like it has become the religiously 'fashionable' thing for Christians to do...just like those who make pilgrimages to Israel so they can be 'baptized' in the Jordan river or Sea of Galilee. What? Was not their "immersion" as a Believer (assuming they are True Believers in the first place!) enough, in obedience to Christ? What is so special about getting dunked again over in Israel. They certainly did not get "saved" -again-. There is only -one- salvation, which Jesus effected "once for all". When they get dunked under water -again-, it is symbolically almost like what Heb6:6 speaks of crucifying Christ "again" and "exposing Him to public disgrace" -again-. But I digress...

They sit leisurely around a table. But Moses commanded: "And thus you shall eat it: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is Passover unto Jehovah." (Ex12:11)

Where are the rituals for lighting the candles found in Scripture? Almost makes one think of the pagan candles that "christendom" associates with that other pagan tradition called "x-mass". Do they both come from the same source? I don't know. But it's not in Scripture.

Where is the 'egg' found in Scripture? The egg is reminiscent of the pagan "easter", symbolic of all the pagan fertility rituals from Ashtoreth, Queen of Heaven, etc, where much of the pagan worship included temple prostitution. That's what the egg symbolizes, along with the 'rabbit' (Oh, sorry..."bunnie"...the 'cuter' label that sucks children into the tradition for all time, so they can never seem to rid themselves of the paganism out of their minds because of the "fun" and "good feelings" that were associated with it as children; thus, How could there possibly be anything wrong with it?! You would take that away from THE CHILDREN???)... "fertility". Did you catch that other term? "temple prostitution"? That's where "easter" came from, and that's what its true association is. Things, for which reasons (among other things) God dispersed Israel to the "four winds" for their 'idolatry'. Yes, folks. When it comes right down to it... change the terminology to be associatively/historically correct for the respective times, Israel was judged by God and dispersed into exile for celebrating "easter"! And yes, they -STILL- observe it symbolically with their seder 'egg'! Yes folks: the seder/easter egg is "idolatry"! Is that sort of thing for True Christians? Is the answer not obvious...

They have a bone of a lamb...that has been "sawn". The passover lamb was not to have any of its bones broken. (Ex12:46) And Jesus fulfilled that when the soldier pierced His side with the spear, instead of breaking His legs..."For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, Not one of His bones shall be broken. " (Jn19:36) Now I really have to wonder what the -real- 'difference' is between 'sawing' or 'breaking'. Either way, the bone is no longer whole. Where most translations say that the lamb was to be "without blemish" (Ex12:5), there is no word signifying being "without" there; the word is actually a 'positive' one of being "whole"... "Your lamb shall be whole..." Complete, perfect, sound, healthy, etc. Thus, if they are going to have a bone, it should be a whole/complete bone... symbolically.

Otherwise, I will confess...I did not read entirely through what you sent...but the parts I did, looked familiar to what I've read and seen portrayed on a video I got from (I think it was) Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry; and have also read elsewhere in the past.

READER QUESTION:
How you would change it so as to bring the whole thing to light.

VW ANSWER:
How would I "change" it? Well...I've never been a 'participant'. Years ago I used to think it would be 'neat' to do so. But when I see the problems with it...I no longer have that longing, and in many ways, I'm just as thankful that I've never partaken. Thus, I guess I'm not part of christendom's cultish "elite", am I. "Change"? I DON'T PARTICIPATE... in the same way I no longer participate in the ritual repetitious (see: Mt6:7) recitations of the so-called "Lord's Prayer" or "Apostle's Creed", etc.

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Follow-up...What/how -do- we celebrate?

READER QUESTION:
So just to clarify. During this time of year, what day / days do we remember and how should we share them with other believers in our homes?

VW ANSWER:
The only Scriptural command of something to -do- commemoratively is the Lord's Supper. "..do this in remembrance of Me.." (Lk22:19) This was something that, even though Paul (Saul) was not there at the time, later after he was saved he says, "..I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you.." (1Cor11:23) In other words, it was important enough that God gave Paul his own apostolic revelation concerning the matter. This was the command:

"...that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, Take, eat; this is My body which is broken on behalf of you; do this in remembrance of Me. In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the New Covenant in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." (vs23-25)

When was the Last Supper? While there are many things that many 'experts' publish and surmise, the thing that has made the most sense to my heart when I read it was from Dave Hunt's book, "How Close Are We?" chapters 14-16; particularly ch16, "Forget Good Friday". [Read it] Whatever he may believe (or NOT believe) about certain other doctrines, in this matter he presents convincing evidence from history, astronomy and careful sorting out of the Scriptures to pinpoint the date Jesus was crucified.

Jesus was dying on the cross Thursday afternoon right at the same time all the Passover lambs were being slaughtered throughout the land. Thus, Wednesday evening was not the Passover "seder", as many messianists would like us to believe. It was related to the preparations for the week-long "Unleavened Bread". (Here, again, I'm relying on the research and expertise of others)

Also, if we recall that when the two with whom Jesus walked to Emmaus invited Him to stay with them, remember -what- it was that caught their attention? How did they 'recognize' Him? "...He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they knew Him...He was known to them in the breaking of bread." (Lk24:30-31,35)

Now, if that Last Supper had been the usual "seder", would there not have been a 'standard' way of breaking the matso, known to 'all' Jews? But when Jesus broke the bread and gave it, and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." (Mt26:26) Whatever He did at that moment was something 'new'; part of the "New Covenant". And when He said regarding the cup, "Drink all of it" (vs27), while we might see a similitude to the seder's "Cup of Redemption" ...which came first? The "seder"? or the Last Supper and Jesus' crucifixion? Let's not forget that the so-called "seder" was not given by Moses. Much of the seder has 'compromise' built into it, due to the exile, and there being no temple in Jerusalem; and the temple was not destroyed until another 37 years after Jesus had ascended back to Heaven. So, I really don't think we can equate that Last Supper with the seder; that the seder was the 'source' of the 'order' of the Last Supper. Perhaps the seder, coming later, was put together as it was, to combine Passover -and- the Last Supper?

But what we observe is what came to be known as the "Lord's Supper". (1Cor11:20)

When do we observe it? ONLY during Passover/Crucifixion week? Jesus said, and Paul reminds, "Do this, -AS-OFTEN-AS- you drink it, in remembrance of Me." (1Cor11:25)

When the early church was "breaking bread from house to house" (Ac2:46), there are many who teach that they were thus observing the Lord's Supper (essentially) 'daily'. But that verse, in context, completes the sentence, "they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.." The term to "break bread" also speaks of, simply, eating meals; with nothing necessarily being associated with the "Lord's Supper". The early church had sold their possessions (vs45) and had all things together communally. Thus, their resources for living and -eating- were all shared...from house to house.

So, during Passover Week what do we observe? and when do we observe it? Jesus did not command like Moses did, where certain days-of-the-month were specifically mapped out, counting so-many-days, etc. We know Jesus' crucifixion fulfilled Passover... so, if there is to be any commemoration of it, would it not obviously be the Lord's Supper: the Bread and Cup.

What about Resurrection Sunday? No special commemoration is commanded. Certainly NOT the pagan "sunrise" service, which was observed by a naked virgin facing towards the rising sun in worship...again, more of those things related to 'fertility'.

Jesus is ALIVE! He is alive NOW! He CONTINUES to be alive! What the early disciples did: "they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead." (Ac4:2) They "gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus." (Ac4:33) What the gentiles reacted to Paul's teaching was: "What does this empty talker want to say? And others, He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign demons, because he preached to them Jesus and the RESURRECTION." (Ac17:18)

The life Jesus gives is not "everlasting"; that is to say, to 'start' at some point, and go on-and-on like the Eveready battery Energizer-bunny. It is more than -merely- "ever-lasting". He gives "-eternal- life" (Jn3:16); that is without beginning and without ending. He gives life in accordance with His own eternal character, the I AM; the One who proclaims, "I am the first and the last" (Is41:4, Rev1:11) the "Beginning and the Ending" (Rev22:13)

Perhaps we should all have that tradition that was told in the news this past week-end from some area of Germany (I think it was?), begun back around the 1400s (?), where several hundred men on horseback make a circuit as 'messengers' through about 30 different towns in their region, proclaiming:

"Jesus Christ has risen from the dead!!"

Like the angel queried: "Why do you seek the living among the dead?" (Lk24:5) Many like to enshrine Jesus' tomb! But the angel proclaimed:

"He is not here, but is risen!" (Lk24:6) "But go, tell.." (Mk16:7) Proclaim it!

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Face Cloth

READER QUESTION:
When John and Peter go to the empty tomb, they find the wrappings lying there and the face cloth separate and neatly rolled or folded up. We couldn't decide on the reason for this. Is it because Jesus just arose and the linens were there as they fell when he arose? Was this to prove the body had not been stolen? [VW: Yes] Or our other consideration was this. We had heard that in Jewish tradition, if the napkin was folded after a meal and put aside (rather than dropped on the plate), that person was saying he would never be back there. Was this the reason the face cloth was apart from the rest of the linens and neatly rolled? This would indicate he would never die again. I know this is picky, but we are really trying to understand.

VW ANSWER:
"..and the face cloth that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but rolled up in a place by itself.." (Jn20:7)

The passage doesn't really suggest that it was -rolled- (or folded) "neatly". As I've heard it explained by another source, the anointing materials with which they buried Him would have dried and hardened and made the clothes 'stiff'...making the torso areas remain in the shape they had been when His body was first wrapped...like a cocoon. And the wrapping that would have been (wrapped/rolled) around His head, would have been 'where' His head had been. He did not get up, and neatly fold everything...but 'left' the wrappings in the shape of His body...only, 'empty'. Thus, yes...'proof' that His body had not been stolen, but that He had been resurrected.

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O.T. Saints?

READER QUESTION:
Another question.... We know no one can come to the Father except through the Son. What happened to the souls of all the good Old Testament people when they died?

VW ANSWER:
Jesus was in the O.T. Israel, although they didn't realize it, were following Christ. (1Cor10:4) The "Angel of Jehovah" that you find all over in the O.T., that was Jesus. God promised Moses, "..My Angel will go before you..." (Ex23:23, 32:34) As He was in the pillar of cloud/fire. (Num12:5) (Num11:25, Ex34:5, 40:38, Ps99:7)

How does one distinguish the Father from the Son? "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (Jn14:9) The promise of Christ was there ever since the woman's "Seed" was promised. (Gen3:15) The O.T. sacrifices were a foreshadow of Jesus dying on the cross. Every time they did their sacrifices, that was a picture of Christ. And when Jesus, Himself, was crucified, He fulfilled all those sacrifices "once for all". (Rom6:10, Heb7:27, 9:12,26, 10:10, 1Pt3:18)

They offered the O.T. sacrifices by "faith". Faith in the -future- "Seed" of the woman.

Where do the souls of the dead go now? To be "at home with the Lord" (2Cor5:8) The Jews spoke of it as "Abraham's bosom". (Lk16:22) During the up-coming 70th week period of 7 years, the souls of the martyrs are said to be "under the altar" (Rev6:9) I suspect these different names are given because, until we go there, it is a mystery. When Paul saw it he said that it was a place of "unspeakable words" (2Cor12:4); and he encourages us "But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it dawned upon the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." (1Cor2:9)

Jesus did promise to come to receive the Believers to Himself, "..that where I am, there you may be also.." (Jn14:3) At the next stage of the First Resurrection, as the living Believers join the resurrected dead-in-Christ to meet the Lord in the air, it says, "And thus we shall always be with the Lord." (1Th4:16-17)

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Jesus Raised a 'spiritual' Body?

READER QUESTION:
When Jesus appeared to Mary and the disciples after his ressurection, was He in a spiritual body? We wondered why so many didn't recognize Him. OTOH, John says that Thomas was able to put his hands in the wounds from the crucifixion.

VW ANSWER:
I should think... 'spiritual'. He was suddenly appearing and disappearing out of 'thin air',etc. It dies a body of 'corruption' and is raised "a spiritual body". (1Cor15:44)

When Jesus became a man, He took on "flesh and blood". (Heb2:14) But when He appears to the disciples after the resurrection, He speaks of "flesh and bones" (Lk24:38) And speaking of the -spiritual- body of Christ, of which the Church is a part, Paul says, "..and of His flesh and of His bones.." (Eph5:30) Thus, it is thought by some that Jesus' resurrected body did not have blood....because He "shed" it on the cross.

For me, then, this raises a question...if the "soul is in the blood" (Lev17:11)...and if the resurrected spiritual body perhaps doesn't have blood...where will our souls be? A question I don't have an answer to....but I'm sure we'll find out in due time.

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Dead in Christ? (re: June Article)

[REFERENCING: "And this even is further described in detail, that the "dead in Christ" will first rise from the dead. Being "in Christ" indicates that they are the "Church", the disciples that were first called "Christians in Antioch".]

READER QUESTION:
If when we die we go to Heaven and our spirits are already in Heaven w/Jesus, what do the dead need to rise for? Their spirits are already in Heaven right? Is this referring to getting glorified bodies? I've never understood this part, please explain.

VW ANSWER:
Well...Adam was first formed from the dust of the ground. (Gen2:7) And it is to dust that mankind returns. (Gen3:19) It was into this dust-originated being that God then breathed into, to create the "living soul". The word "breath" from the expression "breath of life" also can mean "spirit". In fact, there are many places in Scripture where the words for breath and spirit might be easily interchanged, and their correct translation can only be done by observing the context. So, in other words; God started out, so-to-speak, with a lump of clay. (Rom9:21) And breathed 'spirit' into it, and gave it 'soul'.

Exactly -what- is spirit and soul? That is God's domain of total understanding. (Heb4:12-13)

However at death the body decays and becomes worm food (Job7:5, 21:26), but the spirit/soul goes to God's presence. In the O.T. they spoke of "Abraham's bosom". (Lk16:22) When Jesus died he promised the thief to receive him in "Paradise". (Lk23:43) During the 70th week, the souls of the martyrs are pictured being "under the altar". (Rev6:9) Whatever these places are characterized as, they are "home with the Lord". (2Cor5:8) Collectively we have come to call it "Heaven", God's dwelling. (1Ki8:30)

But according to Jesus' description to Nicodemus, the movings of the Spirit cannot be pinned down. (Jn3:8) How does one 'see' a spirit? Thus, God has put "the spirit of man within him". (Zec12:1) Our bodies are 'temples'...dwellings for the spirit/s. For a believer, they are a temple for the Holy Spirit (1Cor6:19) as the believer and God have oneness. (Jn17) For one who has emptied himself, the door is wide open for demons to come in and reside. (Mt12:43-45) In that passage Jesus calls the body a "house"...the same term that is used a lot in the O.T. regarding the temple.

But at the onset of sin, these bodies became corrupt...subject to death. (Gen2:17) These bodies of "flesh and blood [are] not able to inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption." (1Cor15:50) But the disciples watched Jesus ascend 'bodily' into Heaven. (Acts1:9) The resurrection provides a body of "incorruption" and "immortality" (1Cor15:53-54)

Earlier in that chapter Paul discusses the "body" of the resurrection. He asks the question: "How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?" (vs35) He speaks of different kinds of bodies (substance) of animals and stars. And how when a seed is planted into the ground it dies...and shoots up a plant. The plant looks totally different from the seed. It's a similar transformation with our bodies. We die a "natural body" and are raised a "spiritual body". (vs42-45) Our earthly bodies are based on "dust" (vs47), and the new spiritual bodies are based on... whatever the "Lord out of Heaven" is. As John says it, at His "revealing" we will be "like Him". (1Jn3:2-3)

What is that like? We don't yet know, because we have not yet arrived there. The Lord tends to not give us all the details about things, until it is the right time. But that is what the resurrection/rapture is about: going to be with the Lord, and receiving the new glorified spiritual, incorrupted, immortal bodies....just like what Jesus was resurrected with. Jesus was the "firstfruit" ...and at the resurrection/rapture it will be "those who are Christ's at His coming". (1Cor15:23)

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Resurrection or Kingdom?

READER QUESTION:
I have been confused by what appears to be inconsistency in some areas of my reading. Can you help explain?

In 1 Cor 15:20, it says Christ is the "firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep". This means he is the first to rise from the dead, surely? But in Matt 17:2 or Mark 9:2 it mentions Jesus talking with Elijah and Moses... So, surely THEY (at least) were the first to rise?

VW ANSWER:
But...did Elijah die....TO BE resurrected? (2Kings ch2)

And what did Jesus say the three were seeing? The "Son of Man...in His kingdom" (Mt16:28) What is Jesus' kingdom? That which we call "Heaven". Jesus was speaking with Elijah and Moses IN HEAVEN. No...Elijah and Moses were not "resurrected"...but in Heaven...and the three, Peter, Jacob and John, were given a little glimpse into Heaven that day....just as Paul was some years later when he was "caught up to the third heaven". (2Cor 12:2)

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