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Tuesday

Why did God give so many strange rules to Israel in the Book of Leviticus? Is a Christian supposed to follow all of the Old Testament today?


Answer
Whether or not a rule is “strange” is a matter of perception. In my house, my children are not allowed to eat in the living room. Children often spill, my living room has a large rug in it, so it is very likely that my carpet would end up stained. A single man, living alone might view this rule as strange, but his perceptions are different because he does not have children, nor is he aware of the messes they often make.

I will admit, that to the modern reader, many of the laws of the Old Testament seem strange, especially since so many of them do not have an equivalent in the New. God gave Israel laws about sacrifice, what food to eat, what to do with sick people, what clothes to wear, how not to trim your beard, even when and when not to have sexual relations. Many of these rules are very specific while others are more broad. 

The Purpose of the Laws of Leviticus
Understand that all the laws given in Leviticus (and other books of law) were given specifically to the Israelites, for a specific purpose at a specific time. As for “why are there so many strange laws?”, I believe the answer is found in (Leviticus 20:22-26).
‘You are therefore to keep all My statutes and all My ordinances and do them, so that the land to which I am bringing you to live will not spew you out. ‘Moreover, you shall not follow the customs of the nation which I will drive out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I have abhorred them.‘Hence I have said to you, “You are to possess their land, and I Myself will give it to you to possess it, a land flowing with milk and honey.” I am the LORD your God, who has separated you from the peoples. You are therefore to make a distinction between the clean animal and the unclean, and between the unclean bird and the clean; and you shall not make yourselves detestable by animal or by bird or by anything that creeps on the ground, which I have separated for you as unclean. Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine.
Conclusion
God wanted Israel to be holy and pure. He wanted them to be completely different from the extremely evil pagan nations around them. Some of the laws promoted good health, some kept them from immoral practices, others taught lessons about holiness and others prevented them from doing anything that resembled an idolatrous practice. There are some laws that are hard to understand, but remember, the reason that particular law was given, was to keep them “set apart” as God’s holy people.

What about the Other Old Testament Laws?
The Old Testament Law (including the book of Leviticus) was given to the Nation of Israel (the Jews) in order to separate them from the rest of the nations of the world and to prepare them for the coming of the Messiah. All of the laws, the requirements, the feasts, the sacrifices, the priesthood, how to worship, the Sabbath and more, were also designed to lead one to the Messiah (Jesus). Now that Jesus has come, that system has been done away. 

Notice what the book of Galatians states: 
But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:23-26).
The Old Testament Law fulfilled its purpose at the death of Christ. It was not abolished (as if it were not good), but instead it was fulfilled by Jesus.
"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).
In the current Christian age, we are not subject to the requirements of the Old Law. The Old Law was only for a specific people (The Jews), for a specific purpose (To prepare the way for Jesus). Now, all people, (Jew are Gentile) are accountable to the teachings of Christ and His Apostles.
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world (Hebrews 1:1-2)
"He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. (John 12:28)  
Final Thoughts 
The Old Testament should still be studied, but with the understanding that it is not a law we will be judged by. 
(Romans 15:4)For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
By Cliff Sabroe - Quotes from NASB, Image from WikiPaintings  

Will I still go to heaven if I am cremated? Is it a sin? What does the Bible say?


End of life decisions are often difficult to make. This is especially true when it comes to one's final resting place and funeral. This question is a common one and although the Bible does not specifically mention cremation, I believe that one can conclude that there would be nothing wrong with the practice.

God is a powerful God! The Bible teaches that “the dead in Christ will rise” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). At the time of the resurrection, our mortal bodies will change. (1 Corinthians 15:50-55) describes this amazing transformation.
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
When Jesus comes again, the dead Christians (in whatever form they are in) will be raised to life eternal with God. God does not require a body to be whole for Him to resurrect it. During the early years of the church, Christians were often fed to lions as a punishment for their faith. Although it is a morbid thought, one would imagine that their bodies were no longer intact. What about one who was burned at the stake? God has the power to transform these mangled corpses in the same way that He could one who has be cremated. 

It is illogical to believe that one would not go to heaven if they are cremated. What about one who donates their organs to another? What about one who donates their body to science when they die? This physical body will be changed during the final resurrection into an immortal body. If God could form man from the dust of the Earth He can also raise up an individual from their cremated remains.

By Cliff Sabroe (References from the English Standard Version Bible)

Does Revelation 19:16 teach that Jesus has a tattoo on His thigh?

The Text: 

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:12-16)

Background:
In this section of Revelation you have Jesus being presented as coming in judgement with power greater than any king that has ever lived. One one the ways Jesus is presented with all power is with the phrase “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” on His thigh.  The question is often asked, “Is this phrase an actual marking or tattoo on the flesh of Jesus?”

Answer:
Most likely this is not a tattoo as we know them today. A person should not use this passage to make the claim that Jesus had one or more tattoos as some have tried to do. Consider these two points in order to better understand the meaning of this passage.

Point #1: The book of Revelation is highly figurative - In this same passage Jesus is portrayed as having eyes that are a “flame of fire”, on His head He has “many diadems”/crowns and from His mouth “comes a sharp sword”. This imagery is very symbolic in nature and one should use caution when trying to draw a specific dogmatic conclusion about the Lord’s appearance from a figurative passage.

Point #2: The text is possibly on His robe not on His skin - One should not assume that Jesus’ thigh is exposed, but instead, that this is a statement of authority woven into the robe itself. A ruler would often have embroidery on his garments or even an engraving on his armor. This author is of the conclusion that this writing is not on exposed flesh, but on an outer garment or armor as a powerful warrior would have. 

John Wesley writes: “That is, on the part of his vesture which is upon his thigh. A name written - It was usual of old, for great personages in the eastern countries, to have magnificent titles affixed to their garments”. 

There is no more magnificent title than “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”! It may be that the NLT represents this passage better, as it states “On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords”.
Conclusion:
It is within the realm of possibility that the symbolism here is of an actual exposed thigh (as one might have when riding a horse), with actual writing on it. The evidence, however, seems to be to the contrary. Also, one must remember that this passage is not intended to support or condemn tattoos in the same way as it is not intended to give an endorsement of having a “sharp sword” in your mouth (see 19:15). This is a symbolic passage designed to show a powerful Jesus coming in a scene of judgement upon the nations.

What if I sin after being saved?...am I lost?



Church leaders are often afraid to speak on topics such as grace and continual forgiveness do to a fear that those hearing the lesson may misunderstand grace as a license to sin. Such an idea is clearly against scripture, in fact Paul once wrote to the church in Rome “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound, God forbid!” (Romans 6:1). We know we should not sin, but the reality is, that even after becoming a Christian we will sin.

What about when we do sin after we becoming a child of God, is there still hope? 
So often it is easy for a faithful child of God to become so saddled with guilt over sin in their life that they quite trying. This too, is not the attitude that one should have. Christians should abhor and avoid sin, but not give up trying when they do continue to sin.

In his letter to some troubled Christians, the apostle John writes:
“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2)
This passage presents two very important teachings. 

#1 Grace and forgiveness should never be viewed as a license to sin. 
Yes, it is true we are forgiven by Christ’s sacrifice and not our own perfection. However, the forgiveness that we have received motivates us to try to live perfect. We will fall short time and time again, but the ultimate goal of every Christian according to John is to “not sin”.

#2 There is hope for us when we do sin
I have talked to several Christians who have lost the hope of salvation because of their continual struggle with sin. To that John would say, don’t worry, hang in there, help is available and His name is Jesus. It is true that we are unrighteous at times, but Jesus is always righteous and He is our advocate and our propitiation. Jesus makes it possible for us in our sinfulness to still be declared sinless and pure. John would later write to these same brethren that he wants them to “know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).
Conclusion: 
Christians should never approve of sin in their lives. God wants us to stay in the light by constantly turning away from sin. When we do sin, we can still feel confident in our salvation by placing our trust in Jesus as our Advocate and our propitiation.

CS- Scripture quotes from the NASB

Does the Bible teach that sex is only for procreation? What is the purpose of sex within marriage?

The Bible does teach that one of the primary purposes for sexual intimacy is the creation of children. In the familiar passage of Genesis 1:28, God told Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply”. Is the multiplying of mankind the only reason God created sex?

The Bible teaches that sex is a gift of God designed to be enjoyed within marriage. Although sex will often result in the blessing of a child, the Bible does not teach that this is the only purpose for the act of intercourse.

The Bible discusses many different purposes for sex within marriage
(Note: Sex is never to take place outside of a heterosexual marriage. When sex takes place out of marriage it is sinful and is usually referred to as “fornication” or “adultery”.)
Sex is for pleasure.
  • In the Song of Solomon you read of a married man and woman enjoying many moments of passionate sexual intimacy. In no place in the book do you find procreation being discussed. 
  • In the Song of Solomon sex is shown as an outpouring of affection and attraction for one’s spouse. In this inspired book of the Bible, this married couple finds great pleasure in being sexually intimate with each other on multiple occasions and in different ways.
Sex is for oneness in marriage.
  • “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 NASB).  Sexual intimacy in marriage allows a couple to consummate their union and express their closeness by becoming one flesh during the act of intercourse. You should be closer to your spouse than any other individual. Sex helps facilitate this closeness within marriage.
Sex allows for intimate knowledge of one’s spouse.
  • In many passages in our english Bibles, the word “know” is used to represent sexual relations. One such example is (Genesis 4:1) which states, “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” (ESV). 
  • The word for “knew” or “relations (NASB)” is the Hebrew word yadah which is a word that means “to know, understand, perceive, learn and discern” (Strongs).  
  • The word the Old Testament uses often for sex may also demonstrate that within the intimacy of marriage one discovers a deeper understanding of their spouse through the act of intercourse. 
Sex in Marriage Protects one from Sexual Temptation.
  • In First Corinthians 7, the Apostle Paul teaches that a healthy sex-life in marriage will serve as a safeguard against adultery. 
  • "The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control". (1 Corinthians 7:3-5 NASB). 
  • Although some will find any excuse to be unfaithful within marriage, the Bible does teach that a healthy sex-life helps in keeping sexual temptations away.
Sex can comfort a hurting spouse.
  • When the child of David and Bathsheba dies, the Bible says “Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the LORD loved him” (2 Samuel 2:24 ESV). 
  • It may be, that during a time of sadness or depression, one way we may be able to comfort our hurting spouse is through physical intimacy. 
  • Society may teach that sex is selfish, dirty and bad, but the Bible teaches it is a beautiful intimate moment that takes place in a healthy marriage relationship. Sex is a way in which a married couple expresses their unselfish love for each-other. When a person is hurting or grieving, they need to know that their spouse is there to comfort them. Many times times comfort is shown through a physical means such as holding one another. Marital intimacy may be another way. This might not be the best course in every situation (be sure you know your spouse's needs), but in some cases a person may find great comfort in an intimate sexual moment with their spouse.
Answer:
  • Sex is not just for procreation. It is a gift to be enjoyed by a married couple for many different purposes from pleasure to protection, or intimate knowledge to procreation. 
  • One well-known Marriage Psychologist put it this way: 
    • “For human beings, sex isn't just to make babies. It is to join two humans in the most intimate union possible. I believe that sexual love freely shared in marriage is the most beautiful way God gave us to say, "I love you." (Beam).

By Cliff Sabroe, Scripture quotes from the NASB95, ESV and KJV Bibles. Citation from (Beam, Joe. Sex and the Bible. -  joebeam.com) 

When is a person ready to be baptized

“He that believes and is baptized will be saved, he that does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16)



I direct a week long summer Bible camp, and it is common for a handful of young people each year to decide to put on Christ in baptism and have their sins washed away. (Praise be to God!!!) One of the things we worry about at camp is that a young person may choose to be baptized prematurely or because of peer pressure. Many of the teens at camp are thinking spiritually for the first time. It is easy to get caught up in the moment and get baptized without thinking about the lifelong commitment that is being made. This post intends to answer the common questions about baptism that are asked in regards to “when is a person ready to be baptized?”

Common Questions about Baptism:
  • Are there things a person must know before being baptized?
  • At what age should a young person be baptized?
  • Could it be that in the past we have rushed people into the water?
  • Are their consequences to baptizing someone prematurely?
Baptism in the Bible
  • In Acts 2 it is observed that baptism comes after one comprehends the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
    • One needs to know that in baptism they are emulating those 3 acts (Romans 6:3-4).
    • One needs to know that they are “baptized into Christ” in order to “put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27).
  • One needs to not think that baptism is a work in which they now have earned salvation (Eph. 2:8-9).
    • Instead they should understand that in baptism they are placing their trust upon Christ’s work on the cross.
  • One must believe in Christ in order to be ready to be baptized.
    • (John 8:24) “unless you believe that I AM he, you will die in your sins” - This is more than just believing that Jesus existed.
      • This is belief in His Lordship, His Deity and all that it entails.
  • When one is baptized, they are submitting to His Lordship; they become His slave, and He is their Master.
    • “... if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
      • When you confess Jesus is Lord before baptism, you are confessing that you are making a commitment to Him through baptism, because HE IS LORD.
In the New Testament one is baptized because they understand two things:
  • 1. The Lordship of Jesus. 
  • 2. Their own sinfulness.
    • Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; Revelation 21:8.
    • Baptism is for the purpose of receiving the forgiveness of sins that Jesus made available to all when He died on the cross. (Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16).
  • This means that before a person is baptized, they must have an idea of:
    • What sin is.
    • Their own personal sinfulness.
    • The consequences of their own sinfulness and because of the consequences of sin they must have a desire to place their trust solely on Jesus to remedy their sin problem.
Questions to ask a person (especially a younger one) who expresses a desire to be baptized: 
(These questions are not at all meant to discourage a person from following God, but instead are designed to make sure a person is ready, and understands what they are doing.)
  • Why do you want to be baptized?
  • Do you believe in the Lordship of Jesus and understand what that entails?
  • Do you understand the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross?
  • Are you a sinner?
    • (If they answer “yes”) Since you are a sinner, do you believe that right now, if you were to die that you would go to Hell?
  • Do you understand the commitment that you are making?
At what age should a young person ready to be baptized?
  • The Bible does not give an answer to this question, however, in the New Testament, the only examples are of adults getting baptized.
  • The Bible may not tell us a specific age, but it must be at an age when:
    • They can sin, realize it, understand its eternal consequences and feel compelled to do something about it.
    • They must comprehend the Deity of Christ and be willing to submit to His Lordship.
    • They must mentally and emotionally be able to make a lifelong commitment to God.
    • They must understand what Jesus did at the cross and how that ties into what they are doing in baptism.
Other points to consider about a young person being baptized:
  • When one is baptized, they are becoming the bride of Christ. 
    • Would this young person be ready for marriage or at least fully understand the seriousness of a marriage relationship?
  • When a Christian continues in sin and refuses to repent, they are to be withdrawn from.
    • Would we consider this fair or be willing to do it to this young person?
  • There are many passages of Scripture that carry adult themes (Song of Solomon, 1 Corinthians 7:1ff).
    • Would we allow a person of this age to attend a class on these subjects or expect them to understand?
    • Could this young person understand a “virgin birth”?
  • Baptism is a most important decision one will ever make.
    •  It is a mature decision that needs to be made by a mature mind that can make such a decision and commitment. A young person may want to do right, make good choices and follow God, but still not be ready to make a decision of this magnitude. 
      • (In those cases we should encourage a young person to keep trying to follow God in every part of their life. Let them know that when they are ready to make this big decision we will be there to help them. Let them know that God loves them and is glad that they love Him too. Promise them, that when they are ready to be baptized, they will know it for sure.)
A person must be a “sinner” before they require “remission of sins”.
  • Baptism is so one may have their sins washed away.
    • Do we consider these young people that want to be baptized old enough to be capable of committing sins, being separated from God for all eternity in a Devil’s Hell?
  • Just because a child “does bad things” does not mean that they are sinning.
  • Just because a child understands that the Bible commands baptism does not mean that they are ready.
  • We need to be cautious to not push our young people into doing something they do not understand.
  • We need to preach Jesus, sin, its solution, and when they grasp it, they will respond appropriately.
Is it possible to be baptized wrong?
  • Yes, in fact, there are examples of “re-baptism” in Scripture. (Acts 19:1-4).
  • Other reasons for re-baptism:
    • Baptized the wrong way.
    • Wrong reason.
    • Without understanding.
    • Without faith.
    • Without repentance.
The right reasons for being baptized:
  • You believe that Jesus is Lord (John 3:16)
  • You understand your own personal sinfulness and that Jesus came and died on the cross to take the punishment for your sins. (Romans 3:21-31). You understand baptisms relationship to Christ’s actions upon the cross.
  • You desire forgiveness and a committed relationship with Christ. 
  • You have placed your faith in Him (Eph. 2). You have repented of your sins (Acts 2:38). You want to confess that He is Lord (Rom. 10:9).
     “and why are you waiting, arise be baptized, washing away your sins, calling upon the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

    Is Satan Omnipresent?



    Omnipresence is defined as “being present everywhere at the same time”.
    Satan is powerful and influential, but he is not omnipresent. Omnipresence is a characteristic of the Divine only. At times, one may think the Devil is omnipresent because of passages like (1 Peter 5:8) “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour”. 

    It is true that the Devil influences many people to sin, this might not always be him directly, but instead, an indirect result of his already established work in the world.

    The Devil is limited by time and space, God is not, for He is omnipresent. 
    How, biblically, should we think of God's omnipresence? The word means that God knows exhaustively, and upholds and touches continually, every single item in the universe he has made, from the tiniest genes and electrons to the most massive stars in the expanding universe to the most complex mind-body interactions in the psyche of over 6 billion people. God is here, there, and everywhere, and his mind and hand are on everything. We are never out of his sight (Psalm 139), and we cannot get away from him (John 1). Wherever we are, he is there too. This is not simply a matter of transcending spatial confines. Strictly speaking, God has no spatial location at all, for space belongs to the created order and exists in him rather than he in it. Such is the omnipresence of God. (Packer, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/september4/36.115.html)
    The Devil cannot be everywhere at the same time like God can. Notice the following passages.
    • (Job 1:6-7) “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” 
    • (Matthew 4:3) “And the tempter came and said to Him...”
    In these two passages, it is clear that the Devil is not everywhere at once. The Devil “roams” and “walks”. If he was omnipresent, he would not have to “move”, because he would already be there. If the Devil is a fallen angel (as the Scriptures describe him), then the same limitations of an angel are the same limitations of the Devil. An angel cannot be everywhere at the same time, nor is an angel “all knowing”. 
    “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven-- things into which angels long to look” (1 Peter 1:12). 
    Only God can be omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. The Devil is not God, he cannot (as a created being) have power equal to the creator. He is a created being with limited power who decided to not follow God. It is this willful rebellion that will result in eternal punishment for him and his followers. 
    "And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire" (Jude 6-7).
    Although Satan is not omnipresent, we should still be on guard and prepared to stand against him. The Devil wants Christians to be lost, and this writer believes he focuses much of his attention on attacking believers. The Devil’s work is well established in the world and the results of it are far reaching. The Devil is powerful, but He is not as powerful as God and faith in Jesus. We can overcome the Devil, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

    By Cliff Sabroe (Scripture references from NASB95).