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October 24, 2000

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Q/A Topics:
Ventriloquism?

QUESTION:
Our "fundamental Baptist" church is having a Marriage Enrichment Seminar next month...[and] we now learn that the speaker, [name] will be using a ventriloquist's puppet. What is the origin of ventriloquism? Is it based on deception. Surely our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost and we should glorify God in our body.

ANSWER:
Well, I looked it up in a couple of encyclopedias I have. It seems to merely be a vocal "technique". While it is something that is used in puppetry, and was used in ancient times when a king would want his advisors to speak to him, without it appearing that they were speaking...and it is also apparently used in shamanism...I did not sense that its origins are questionable. Although, to be honest, nothing I read actually told 'where/how' it got started. It certainly wouldn't seem to me to be any more harmful than a story-teller who uses different 'voices' to give various characters their distinct personalities. After all, that is all a puppeteer is doing...telling a story...only, he has a "prop" to also give a visual effect. But ventriloquism does not, intrinsically, use "magic" or any such thing. It is a physical "skill" which is learned...manipulating the various parts of the mouth and throat. Just as a good singer must learn and practice to become proficient, so also must a ventriloquist learn and practice his 'art'.

Whether or not it glorifies God would be the same as with singing. It is not the singing/ventriloquism intrinsically...but what is done 'with' these skills. What is the message and the manner in which it is delivered? Is the ventriloquist being vulgar, or glorifying God?

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Suicide... an unpardonable sin?

QUESTION:
I have a question and it's about suicide. I know that when God create us, He has given us a free will to choose. Even as born-again we still have that free-will to obey the word of God or disobey. When we sin we have that free will to obey the Holy Spirit or not. My question is: If a christian commits suicide is he or she is forgiven. I have a very hard time in answering this question because I am asked how can one be forgiven when you're dead. You can't asked for forgiven if you're dead.

ANSWER:

Have you seen the Q/A, "suicide"?

The only other thing I might add here would be another question. What happens to a person who is killed in a car accident or by a mugger before they had a chance to ask forgiveness for their sins of which we are all guilty from time to time? (1Kg8:46, 1Jn1:8) Would we not say that this is where Jesus' "advocacy" comes into the picture? (1Jn2:1-2) There are so many things we do that we are likely not even aware of, that are displeasing to the Lord. In the O.T. they had sacrifices for sins committed "in ignorance". (Lev5:15, Num15:26)

Even Paul spoke of their afflictions being so great at times that they "despaired even of living" (2Cor1:8) Now, if afflictions are coming upon a young/weak Believer, and they are in such a state of despair that the only way out they see is suicide, does the Lord throw away His child? I really believe there are many things we do not yet know fully, and this is likely one of them. Thus, just as we cannot save ourselves by works in the first place, it is God's "grace through faith...a gift" (Eph2:8-9), we cannot lose our own salvation, either. -HE- is the One Who "justified" us. (Rom8:30-39)

Fortunately, God knows the heart/s. (Heb4:12)

Mental Illness?

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Addendum: Suicide OK?

EDITOR:
Perhaps it would be in order to clarify something. An e-mail from one subscriber, in addition to giving his own thoughts, also suggested that the VW Q/A's on the matter of suicide might be a little misleading; as though to leave the impression in some minds that... if things get a little rough, it's OK to take the easy out and kill one's self, because God "will forgive".

First of all, suicide is never suggested or recommended! Please understand this clearly! Taking of human life is never a condoned behavior. There are only three scenarios where taking a life is exonerated.

  1. Administering Justice upon a murder or other similar crime like rape or kidnapping, etc. (Gen9:6, Num35:30, Ex21:12, Deu22:25, Ex21:16)

  2. Burglar or other criminal, when the victim fights back to defend himself, and the criminal dies as a result. (Ex22:2, Lk22:36)

  3. Warfare (2Sam11:25, Deu7:2, etc)
The two Q/A's were answering the matter of suicide more from the perspective of a predisposed thought that, automatically, "suicide indicates an -unsaved- person". Or, that there is no forgiveness for suicide. The Q/A answers were given as they were, to indicate that the matter is likely not quite so hard-and-fast as some people would like to suggest it is. The Q/A's were giving the 'other side' of those questions.

However, while there may not be any direct teaching on the subject, any Scriptural examples of suicide illustrate people who were not saved. Saul had pulled back from God and had gone to a medium, and in the heat of battle, being wounded, rather than, even in that late hour, repenting and trusting God, instead falls on his own sword. (1Sam31:4) And then, there's Judas, who after betraying Jesus, goes and hangs himself. (Mt27:5, Acts1:18) Of whom Jesus said, "but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It were good for him if that man had never been born." (Mk14:21) But that condemnation was likely more for his treachery, rather than the suicide. But the suicide was all part of the package of his heart into which satan had entered. (Jn13:27)

So... just to clarify again: I do not back down from anything that was said in those two Q/A's, in the context of the questions they were answering. In other words, suicide does not automatically mean, by its act, that the person is not saved and can't receive God's forgiveness; because of whatever circumstances that might have led up to it.

However, it is NEVER RECOMMENDED to a person to commit suicide. DON'T DO IT! Don't take the life God gave you, into your own hands. God gave you life when you were in your mother's womb. (Ps139:13) And your death is at -God's- "appointed" time. (Heb9:27) It is not -your- life; it is God's. "..in Him we live and move and have our being.." (Acts17:28)

I know of a person who took an overdose of pills and was taken to the hospital. They were recovering from that, when, in the care of hospital staff, the LORD took the person's life with a stroke. I was a child at the time and so, don't know everything that was going on in the person's heart leading up to that. But again, the Lord kept the person from taking their own life; and for whatever reason, it was then the Lord's time to take the person. Their death was in the -Lord's- hands.

Yes, I know from personal experience how a BELIEVER can come to a point of total despair to where suicide seems inviting. (That was MANY years ago) But I also know how the Lord works in a person's life. If you have been there, don't allow the 'pharisees' to give you a guilt trip for finding yourself in a place of despair not of your own making. Remember that Elijah, just after having done exploits for God, was at a point where he implored God, "It is enough, O Lord, take away my life.." (1Kg19:4) If someone of Elijah's stature and calling could find himself in that place, who are we to assume it might never happen to us? Paul speaks of being "despaired even of life" but he says, "..we had the sentence of death in ourselves, so that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; Who delivered us from so great a death.." (2Cor1:8-9)

If/when you find yourself in that spot, rather than looking inward with self-pity, look God-ward. If your circumstances are not of your own making, then ask God how He is intending to strengthen you and make you grow through the experience. "What will You have me to do?" (Acts9:6) Our goal is to glorify Christ "..in my body, whether by life or by death." (Phil1:20) As Jesus did, "Not what I will, but what You will" (Mk14:36)

If it is of your own making, from bad choices along the way of your life, and 'now' you find yourself under discipline, then you need to 'suck-it-up', face the consequences and...

"My son, do not reject the chastening of Jehovah, and do not loathe His correction; for whom Jehovah loves He corrects, even as a father corrects the son with whom he is pleased. Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gets understanding." (Pr3:11-13)

Also, if you are a child of God (not a pretend "christian"), even if you "walk through the valley of the -SHADOW- of death.." and you think you are all alone in your situation, just remember that the -Lord- is "with [you]". His "rod and staff" will prod you along, until you are where He wants you to be. (Ps23:4)

Always remember that, for a child of God, it doesn't matter how heinous the circumstances, "..we KNOW that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." So that we might be "conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom8:28-29)

Amen!

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Power through Prayer vs. God's Sovereignty?

QUESTION:
I'm an email subscriber and regular visitor to your website. I've read some of your material which deplores the notion of the "power of prayer". I've also been wrestling with the fit-in between the sovereignity of God and the necessity of prayer. For instance, Jesus prayed so much, and asked us to pray saying "Your will be done on earth". This leads to the question, "To what extent is the fulfillment of God's will on earth dependent on my prayer or faithfulness?".

I'd love it if you can shed some light on this in the context of the mail below which makes me a bit uncomfortable when it says that we've got this great "weapon" in our hands. At the same time, it describes God's powerful answer to fervent prayer. Some time back in my life, when I asked God what kept Him from using me more mightily for His kingdom, the answer seemed to be that I wasn't spending enough time with Him in prayer, and yet, fitting this in with the sovereignity of God is not easy. So then, please do find the time to reply.

ANSWER:
Other than what I've written in the past, and posted to the website, my answer has to be... "I don't know". All the Sammy Tippit stuff you pasted is all so much "we did it...BY OUR PRAYER". As though to say, if they hadn't been praying, Romania would not have gotten out from under Communism, etc. That it was their praying that caused it to happen. And they want to be earthly rulers, by praying regarding entire nations. It's a power they "wield"...rather than a communion with God.

They used the example of Solomon. Now, if we look at Solomon's prayer (1Kg8), we see what is really a public mechanism. His prayer was a -public- prayer...and in many ways, was a means of "uniting" the hearts of all the people gathered there that day to dedicate the temple. It is never recorded that this "cloud" of God's presence moved about every time Solomon was on his knees. That was a very special occasion. It was the first temple Israel had...after years of the tabernacle/tent/s. This was a permanent physical built structure representing God's presence in Israel...so OF COURSE there was going to be some "fireworks". Israel was a nation for "signs and wonders" (Is8:18)

When the disciples prayed after being before the sanhedrin, "the place..was shaken" (Acts4:31). They were praying "according to His will" that they might proclaim the Gospel "with boldness" (vs29). And the result was, that they spoke "with boldness". (vs31)

When Jesus prayed prior to raising Lazarus, you notice He is praying "for the benefit" of the people hearing Him pray. (Jn11:41-42) Again...a "public" prayer. More as a "sermon", than a prayer.

When Elijah prayed before God sent the fire to consume the offering, that prayer, too, was more for the benefit of the hearers...that they might understand the truth when all was said and done. (1Kg18)

Now, would these various things have happened if these prayers had not been offered? Probably not. Because the people involved in each case would not have been situated/gathered as they were. But God's power was not manifest -because- of the prayers. They prayed according to His will. They were in God's will...at the right place at the right time because they were "praying without ceasing" (1Th5:17) in their hearts. That was their normal communion with God. It was God's plan all along to fill the temple with smoke, and consume Elijah's offering. Solomon and Elijah were -merely- faithful servants, being in God's place at God's time, according to His will.

If you notice the case of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5, Peter does not "pray" and utter words for Ananias that he is going to fall down dead. It is likely that Peter didn't even know that he would be struck down dead the first time around. I mean...he didn't know enough to shut up with Cornelius, until the Holy Spirit came upon the gentiles there. Peter was verbally condemning Ananias, and -God- struck him down. Now, of course, by the time Sapphire comes around, Peter knows God's will on the matter, so he then 'pronounced' her death, as well.

God's "power" through prayer is more like Abraham's servant when fetching a wife for Isaac. The servant was faithfully obedient, and he says, "I being in the way, Jehovah guided me..." (Gen24:27) Now, if the servant had gone to some other place, and prayed...God would not have answered. He would not have been in a place "according to His will". The servant was where he was supposed to be, in God's will, and so, the matter of "praying" was somewhat a "formality" ...if you will. God already knew the outcome and had already sent Rebecca on her way to the well, because when he was finished praying...there she was. Thus, it was obviously NOT his praying that sent her to the well. Right?

Whatever verbal praying we do is "according to His will". Otherwise, prayer is the continual communion with God. Fellowship. Being "in the way" of His presence.

Perhaps I'm not answering your question? It's the only answer I know.

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Body, Soul & Spirit

QUESTION:
Could you explain to me the different between Man's body,soul,and spirit. I hear that some Pastors, preachers, and teachers says that soul and spirit are the same. Please give me a break down on the three. Thank you and God bless you.

ANSWER:
Paul makes a specific point of enumerating all three "..and may your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless..." (1Th5:23)

Animals have souls (Gen1:30), as does man (Gen2:7). But nowhere is it said of animals that they were made in God's "image" as man was. (Gen1:26-27) Because "God is Spirit". (Jn4:24) It is the spirit in man which distinguishes him from animals. Animals do not have the same kind of "understanding". (Ps32:9) They are not -moral- creatures.

While God sees and knows about each sparrow that falls to the ground (Mt10:29) God does not have the same concern for animals (1Cor9:9b) as He does for man where He implores man to repent. (Eze33:11)

Man is special to God, "..what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man, that You visit him? For You have made him lack a little from God; and have crowned him with glory and honor. You made him rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all under his feet..." (Ps8:4-8) and it goes on and lists all the animals being "under" man's dominion.

The body is, well, the body... made up of flesh and blood. (1Cor15:50,39)

The soul is that part which manipulates our built-in 'computers', our brains. With our soul we make decisions (like animals do). But even beyond that, it is our soul with which we reason and understand things. (1Cor15:14) Godless science assumes that man's personality is bound up in the brain, and is composed of neural 'data'. But the brain is merely like a computer. Computers do not operate unless someone turns them on, and issues commands. Yes, just like computers, brains can malfunction. But as is attested in many cases where a person recovered from stroke, etc., the real person was "in there" even when the brain was not functioning correctly; in many cases, being frustrated that they knew what was going on, but could not communicate with people around them, because their brain "interface" to their bodies was "on-the-blink".

We are commanded to have our spirit in subjection to the soul. "The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets" (1Cor14:32) In discerning the spirits Paul speaks of the difference between when a spirit is in control, and there is no understanding (1Cor14:14) vs. when the mind is functioning with understanding. (1Cor14:15)

It is the soul that sins, and thus, dies. (Eze18:4) When Christ died on the cross, it was His "soul as a guilt-offering". He travailed in "His soul" (Is53:10-11) When we are saved, we "walk..according to the Spirit" because "the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus..." frees us from sin and death. (Rom8:1-2)

It is with the spirit that we understand God. (1Cor ch2) When a person does not understand God, it is because they do not have His Holy Spirit (Rom8:9), they are spiritually dead.

  1. When we seek God with the "whole heart" (Deu4:29, Ps119:2) it means that we are saved, having come to Him in repentance... "be merciful to me according to Your Word" (Ps119:58) That's the SPIRIT.

  2. Then, we "think" on our ways. (Ps119:59a) That's the SOUL.

  3. The result is that our actions "turned my feet" are according to His commandments (Ps119:59b) That's the BODY.
The spirit wanting to please God, guides the soul/mind as to what the person is going to behave like, which in turn effects what the body does in actions and living, which others see.

Could it be that those who preach the soul and spirit being the "same" are not saved..? They are apparently spiritually dead, and thus don't 'understand' the spirit. (1Cor ch2) These, also, typically tend to be those who live a life of legalism, based on "what they DO"... typically, "touch not, taste not, handle note" (Col2:21) They try to become pleasing to God backwards, beginning with the body... what they -do-, rather than beginning with the spirit/heart. It is usually these same kind of people who do not understand "Repentance" to salvation. They think it is a physical/body set of -actions/works-, rather than a spiritual -position-.

It would also seem to be these same types who would tend towards charismania. Since they don't have God's Holy Spirit, they try to manufacture/conjure the experiential "feelings" of -a- spirit. Only trouble is, since they are not saved, not having God's Holy Spirit (Rom8:9), the spirits they conjure are demons.

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