Have I Blasphemed the Holy Spirit?

Universalism

Question and answer from the Bible Answer Man broadcast.


Pat in Tyler, TX on BOTT radio: Something happened many years ago and I was questioning my salvation. I was on a trip with my husband and felt so much love for God in my heart. The clouds got dark-looking and all and I said God’s coming again and I’m not ready for Him. All of a sudden on the radio a broadcast came on about God telling Sarah she’s have a baby in her old age and I heard you have put your hand to the plough and you’re not fit for the Kingdom of God. I felt like God had just said that directly to me. I hadn’t been worrying about my salvation at all and suddenly God was speaking to me through a radio broadcast. And so my question is if I’ve blasphemed the Holy Spirit?

Hank: Pat, if you had blasphemed the Holy Spirit you would not be calling me with concern in  your voice. You would not care about Jesus Christ and you would not care about the Kingdom. The very fact that you care means that you do not have a hardened heart. You have a soft heart towards the things of the Spirit.

Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is never an act that happened at a particular time confirmed by radio broadcasts. It is a continuous, willful, ongoing rejection of the love and grace that could be yours. So as long as you are in the flesh, as you are now, you realize you’re a sinner, you’ve repented of your sin, received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, you are His and He is yours. You are now a living stone in the temple of God. You are not perfect. Neither am I. But you are a living stone in the temple of God. You have received the righteousness of Jesus Christ. You are set apart through baptism now, signifying that you’ve been buried to your old life, raised to newness of life through His resurrection power. You are a child of the King and don’t let Satan deceive you or put doubt in your mind. If Jesus says “Whoever hears My Word and believes Him who sent Me, has everlasting life,” you have to say “I trust Jesus.” If you hear His Word and believe in Jesus Christ you have everlasting life.

Pat: Thank you very much for taking my call.

What About Universal Salvation?

Universalism

Question and answer from the Bible Answer Man broadcast.


Chris in Olathe, KS on KCCV: I’m calling about my 80 year old mother-in-law visiting from Germany. She has a lot of false theology, but one of the things she’s stuck on is she thinks that even after death everyone in the world, Hindus, Muslims, Hitler, Stalin, doesn’t matter, that God will give them in eternity chances to come to Him. She can’t imagine that God, being love, could ever turn anyone away ever.

Hank: Let’s take someone like Gandhi. Gandhi is a great example of someone who did some very memorable things in a positive direction. But yet when you look at his teachings and practices, what becomes evident right away is that he looked at the resurrection of Jesus Christ and he dispensed with it. He said “I don’t believe it. I don’t believe Jesus Christ is divine. I think He was a good teacher, but I don’t think He was divine.” So he denied that Jesus Christ could be the resurrected Savior of humanity, and he’s just as content with a view that reincarnation becomes a plausible way by which we are reconciled to God.

The question becomes how do you know whether or not this is so? Well, you test all things by some kind of an authority that can be validated. In a biblical worldview that is the Word of God. The reason we believe the Bible to be a reliable authority is it corresponds to evidence. Which is to say,  you can look at the manuscript evidence, the archaeological evidence, the predictive prophecy in the Word of God, and know that the Bible is divine as opposed to merely human in origin.

So what does the Bible say about all this? It says, whether you’re Gandhi or anyone else, it is appointed for you once to die and afterwards to face judgment. That is what the Book of Hebrews very clearly communicates in Hebrews 9:27. So according to the Word of God we have an opportunity to have a relationship with God in time and He ratifies that in eternity. By the same token He has given us an opportunity to reject Him in time and He ratifies that for eternity. We must not suppose that people suddenly change their mind. Those who don’t want a relationship with Jesus Christ which is available to them in time will not want a relationship with Jesus Christ in eternity. Their hearts will evermore be hardened against the glory and grace of God.

That’s why, ultimately, hell becomes a ratification of true human freedom and genuine human dignity. If there was no hell, there could be no heaven. In fact, the righteous would be incarcerated in a counterfeit heaven and the unrighteous would be incarcerated in heaven against their will, which would be a torment worse than hell. The impenitent don’t want a relationship with God, and God continues in the afterlife to sustain them in existence, albeit apart from His goodness, his glory and his grace, because that is what they want.

Chris: She just can’t imagine that because God is love – I’ve told her that God is also a Judge, but she doesn’t want to hear that – that He has infinite love that we can’t fathom and that He could never give up on one of His children. She even thinks the devil may eventually turn around.

Hank: I think  you’re communicating in a very wise fashion. What you said was the best of all things to say. Whether it’s accepted or not is not your responsibility, but to say it clearly is your responsibility, and that’s what you’ve done. You can’t change anybody’s heart. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. But you can communicate truth in love, with gentleness and with respect.

What you are communicating with respect to the nature of God is of paramount importance. It is true that a lot of people say “My God is a God of love,” but that God is a god which is merely a figment of someone’s imagination. The biblically God, as you have correctly said, is a God of love, but He is also a God of justice, and you don’t have a full-orbed concept of who God is unless you recognize that biblical picture of God, a God of infinite love and a God of infinite justice. That is correctly said. And again, you can communicate the Gospel, but only the Holy Spirit changes the heart. So you don’t want to take a burden or responsibility that isn’t yours.

And it’s not as though God is going to keep her out on a technicality. If she wants a relationship with God, God will reveal Himself to her. The God of the Bible is revealed not only in the Bible, he’s revealed in the universe that He has created and He has put a knowledge of Himself on the tablet of her heart. You can suppress that knowledge, but you do that in unrighteousness. That’s what Jesus said to Nicodemus. “Light came into darkness, but men loved darkness.” So they persist in their worldview, not because there’s not enough light, not because they can’t believe, but because they won’t believe.

Chris: That’s exactly what we said to her today. If anyone out there would like to pray for her, her name’s Gerty and she’s 80 years old and she has lived through a rough life.

Hank: I can identify with that. My mother is now 87. She loves the Lord, but I can identify with her, almost picture her in the sense that my mother, also – we’re from Holland – and my mother endured the Second World War as a nurse and I’m very familiar with that war generation. But let me [pray] for Gerty right now.

Father, thank you so much for bringing Gerty to our attention. Oh, Lord Jesus we ask You that You will open her heart. We recognize that prayer is firing the winning shot and even now on bended knee we ask you Lord through Your precious Holy Spirit to give her a glimpse of her Savior. Oh, Lord, may she come to say “Lord Jesus, I want You to be my Savior and my Lord. Oh, Lord Jesus, Your will be done in my life.” Lord, may she realize that she is a sinner but that as she repents of her sin she can receive You in all Your fullness. Not just when she dies, but even now she might have life that is life indeed. Oh, Lord Jesus, we bring her in unity before your throne of grace. Lord, may the scales fall off her eyes as the scales fell off the eyes of Saul, who became the great apostle Paul. Lord, we pray this again, not by might nor by power, but by Your Spirit, and Lord, will you please use, in the process, her precious family, and Lord, would you also bring other circumstances and people into her life while there’s yet time. This is the appointed day of salvation and Lord, may you bring it about not by our human effort, but by Your glorious Spirit. We ask in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Give her my regards, as well.

Chris: Thank you so much. Danke.

Hank: You are entirely welcome. God bless you.

Q & A: Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday?

Second Coming

Question and answer from the Bible Answer Man broadcast.


Lou in St. Louis, MO on KSIV: Hi, Hank. This is his wife. He had to go to work. My name is Ginger. The Bible talks about under one name you shall enter the gates of heaven. What is that name? We’ve read that God has been identified as Yahweh.

Hank: What’s really important is that you have the God who is revealed in Scripture. That one God, Yahweh in the Old Testament, is revealed as one God by nature, three in Person. Which is to say that the God of the Bible is a God who is one. We are fiercely monotheistic as believers, both Old Testament and New Testament believers. But if you read through the Bible, what you apprehend is that the Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God. Now, when we’re talking about Father, Son and Holy Spirit we’re talking about personal identification formed and completed on the basis of relationships within the Godhead.

So you might say, from a biblical perspective, that there’s one “What” and three “Who”s. If I were to say there was one God and three Gods I’d be obviously contradicting myself. But that’s not what the Bible says. It’s one God revealed in three Persons. And by the way, those three Persons are eternally distinct. So the Father never becomes the Son and the Son never becomes the Holy Spirit.

So it is in the name of Yahweh revealed in the Old Testament and manifested through Christ in the New – and remember Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. It is through the name of the one true God revealed in Scripture that we have entrance into a relationship with our Creator for both time and for eternity.

Ginger: Thank you so much for that. With regard to pagan holidays, some religions don’t celebrate Christmas or July 4th or anything. As Christians, are these considered pagan holidays?

Hank: I think this is a matter of conscience. I think that wonderful Christians have chosen not to celebrate those holidays for particular reasons, but I don’t think you want to do it for the wrong reasons. Sometimes you have the wrong reasons given, something that ends up being historical revisionism. As Christians we ought to be those committed to truth.

The issue here from a historical standpoint is simply this: that the holidays were never meant as a means of Christianizing something that’s pagan, but rather as a means of setting up a rival celebration. So, for example, Christmas is not the Christianizing of something that’s pagan, but it is a rival celebration intended to communicate that the real joy of the world is Christ Who, in the incarnation, comes and brings meaning, purpose and fulfillment to our lives and through Him we might have redemption, which is a reestablished relationship with God in full in the new time/space continuum, the new heavens and the new earth, and in part even now. So Christ came to give us life and to give us life more abundantly, even in the present.

So, again, the idea here is that we want to set up a rival celebration to say that this is something that we overtly celebrate to bring glory to the name of the One who came in a manger and lived a perfect life which we could never live, offers us His perfection as an absolutely free gift.

Ginger: Thank you very much. My last question is regarding the Sabbath day and what starts the first day. With regard to the Bible, is the first day of the week Saturday?

Hank: No, the first day of the week is Sunday. The last day of the week is Saturday. But the idea behind this, remember, is we were always given a pattern of recognition. Which is to say in Genesis we are to remember God’s creative prowess, and so we work six days and we rest on the seventh in honor of the One who created everything.

In Exodus it is the celebration of God’s liberation from oppression. But in the New Testament it becomes a celebration that we have through Christ in whom we have out Sabbath rest. That Sabbath rest ultimately comes as a result of the resurrection, and, therefore, the most dangerous snare that anyone could imagine in the early Christian church was a failure to recognize that Jesus was the substance that fulfilled the type and the shadow. So because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, because of the descent of the Spirit on Pentecost Sunday, the early Christian church changed a theological tradition that had given them their national identity because Christ had risen from the dead and through Christ we have our Sabbath rest and therefore no longer slavishly bound to the Old Testament Laws with respect to the Sabbath such that if we did any work on the Sabbath we’d have to be stoned to death.

Those civil and ceremonial laws have ultimately been abrogated, and not only abrogated, but heightened ultimately in the resurrected Christ who fulfills the substance that once was shadow. We’ll be right back in just a moment with your questions.

Q & A: How Will We Recognize Christ

Second Coming

Question and answer from the Bible Answer Man broadcast.


Grace in Salt Lake City, UT on KUTR: Hi Hank. I sure appreciate you helping us muddle through these Scriptures. My question is about the Second Coming. Just as the Jews didn’t recognize Jesus as their messiah, I am questioning how we are going to know that Jesus Christ is our messiah. Does the antichrist come during the sixth trumpet and then Jesus Christ comes at the seventh trumpet? The way we might know it’s Him is if we’re still in our physical bodies it’s the antichrist, but if it’s Jesus Christ we will be changed to our spiritual bodies, changed in the twinkling. Am I totally off?

Hank: I don’t think you want to read the Book of Revelation in that fashion, first and foremost. Remember that when you look at what is going on when the seals are opened in Revelation, chapter six, this has to do with something that is going on in that epic of time.

So when John says “I watched as he opened the sixth seal there was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red,  and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place,” this is apocalyptic language that we should be familiar with, because this apocalyptic language is used throughout the Scripture. Indeed, Jesus used this very language in the Olivet Discourse, Matthew 24. Joel uses this language, Isaiah uses this language.

The language in every case is used with respect to judgment of nations. So, for example, if you look at the context of Isaiah, the judgment is on Babylon. The Medes and Persians are going to turn out the light of the glories of the Babylonian empire. In Joel you see the language being used with respect to judgment on God’s people. The same thing is true when you read Revelation 6. Once again you see judgment on those who were called to be a light to the nations, but, instead, prostituted themselves with the nations.

So Jesus takes the language of the Old Testament prophets and applies it to what is going to happen when Jerusalem and the temple are destroyed. Remember Jesus said in the context of using this very language in the Olivet Discourse that all of it would happen within a generation. And so His prophecy was fulfilled precisely in that way. Within a generation the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in fulfillment of Messiah’s prophecy. So this takes place in a 1st century epic. By the way, John, in Revelation, has an expanded Olivet Discourse. And so he’s talking about something that’s happening in a 1st century epic.

Now, to extend this a little further, Revelation is not written to you – it’s not written to me. It is written for you and it is written for me. Which is to say that Revelation is written to seven churches in the epicenter of the Caesar cult, and Jesus, through John and through the vision, is encouraging His people, true Israel, to be faithful and fruitful. They’re going to suffer persecution for a short time. Everything is going to be upended, but in the end they will receive an eternal vindication, and so He is encouraging them. And as we read through Revelation we are, ourselves, are encouraged because we too have the same hope that John holds out for the faithful, and that is they’ll see a New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, prepared as a bride beautifully adorned for her husband. As Paul also points out in Galatians 4, it’s not the Jerusalem below, it’s the Jerusalem above that is free and she is our mother. If we’re attached to the Jerusalem that’s below, then Paul points out we are still in bondage, but we are not in bondage as true Israel because we’re looking forward to the New Jerusalem that shines with the glory of God, and its brilliance is like a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.

So that’s really what’s going on here in the Book of Revelation. Furthermore, let me say one other thing in response to your call, and that is antichrist. Antichrist is never used in the Book of Revelation, but it is used in John’s Epistles, and it has to do with anyone who denies that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. So whether an individual or an institution, and it doesn’t matter whether you live in this century or the 1st century or the 20th century or even now in the 21st century, if you deny Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, then you are, by virtue of that, antichrist or against Christ. So it’s any individual, any institution that denies that Jesus Christ is Lord and that He has come in the flesh.

Grace: Okay, so when we hear about the wound and His mouth and all of that, I guess I’m confused. Is it an actual person?

Hank: Remember, what you have to understand when you read a book like Revelation is you will immediately be confused by what John is saying unless you are firmly tethered to the rest of Scripture. Let me back up a little bit.

Remember when the Bible was being translated into the English language, at that particular epic of time it was considered a road to what was called a floodgate to iniquity, which is to say if you put the Bible into the hands of laypeople it will lead to iniquity because they don’t know how to interpret the Scripture. This was the thought of the Catholic humanists at the time. But Reformers said no, we want to put the Bible into the hands of the laity and then teach them how to read Scripture in light of Scripture. And this is particularly what we have to do with respect to Revelation. Revelation is 404 verses. 278 of them are contextualized by other portions of Scripture – particularly the Old Testament. Beyond that, oftentimes John is using metaphors that we wouldn’t get unless he explained what they meant. So, he talks, for example, about the flaming torches of fire before the throne of God. And then he explains to us what they are – the seven spirits of God, and even that takes explaining. Otherwise you’ll think there’s nine in the Godhead.

But he also does the same thing with golden bowls full of incense, and he says these are the prayers of the saints. So apocalyptic language is not just apocalyptic in the sense of an unveiling, but in the sense of a linguistic matrix that comes directly from the rest of Scripture. So the short answer is, things will be confusing unless you are firmly tethered to Scripture and you read Scripture in light of Scripture.

And do remember, metaphors so often – people often say “Well, now you’re not interpreting the Bible literally” – Well, John himself is not asking us to interpret the Bible in a wooden, literalistic fashion, but in the sense in which it’s intended. We have to recognize that the metaphors of Scripture have sharp teeth. They’re not there to obscure knowledge, but rather they are there to illumine knowledge that we might otherwise miss. So when Jesus Christ is described as having a tongue that looks like a sword, this is not what Jesus Christ looks like. It is what Jesus is like. Or when the Holy City is described as being 12,000 stadia in length and as wide and high as it is long, we’re not to suppose that we’re going to inherit some great big cube in the sky, as some modern writers write in sensationalistic books about heaven, but rather we are to recognize that John is drawing from the imagery of the Old Testament. The cube-shaped holy of holies in which Jehovah dwelt is an analogy when the new heavens and the new earth in which we will experience God and see Him, as it were, face to face, where we will physically commune with the resurrected Christ.

So, again, all of Scripture has to be contextualized or read in light of Scripture, and when we fail to do that we mistake the meaning of Scripture. I’ve written about the antichrist and the beast in Revelation and, of course the Lamb. Jesus is described as a Lion and a Lamb, not to get us confused, but when He is, He’s described in that way because elsewhere in Scripture He is described as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. He’s also the Lamb slain before the foundations of the world. So when we read Scripture in light of Scripture we find out that the description of a lion and a lamb is to teach us something about Jesus Christ that we might ordinarily miss.

I’ve written about this in various places. The Apocalypse Code, The Complete Bible Answer Book, Collector’s Edition and much more.

Q & A: A Second Blessing?

Holy Spirit Descending

Question and answer from the Bible Answer Man broadcast.


Mitch in Chapman, KS: Really appreciate the show. Love listening to you. A few weeks ago I met a couple visiting my church. They said they were members of the Church of God Holiness. I looked up information on them and it said they believed in something called a second work of grace, which is Christian perfection in this life. What are your thoughts on this and what Scriptural evidence do they use?

Hank: There is no Scriptural evidence for it whatsoever. It is a pretext that is part of a theological construct. It doesn’t necessarily rule this out as being outside the pale of orthodoxy, but I think it’s one of those issues that we can debate vigorously about on the basis of the Word of God, which lets us know that if you are a believer and you are indwelt by the power of the Holy Spirit, but as an indwelt believer you can continuously be infilled by the power of the Holy Spirit. Which is to say you can be continuously empowered for service, and that’s why I often repeat on this show “Not by might nor by power, but by His Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.” So there is not only a second blessing, but there is a third and there is a one millionth, and if you live long enough, perhaps a one billionth. The reality is that every time we are infilled or we are empowered for service, we are receiving another blessing.

This is the very thing that Jesus communicated to the disciples when He was about to leave the earth. He said “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” So witnessing is another blessing that we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to fulfill.

So the notion that there is a second blessing that leads us to entire sanctification, I think is misguided. We are continuously being infilled or empowered for service because, indeed, we are leaky vessels and we need to be empowered daily so that we can be of service to the Master.

Mitch: Amen. That’s what I was thinking as well. I appreciate the time, Hank.

Hank: You got it. We will never be entirely sanctified until that day that Jesus comes to put all things to right. Then we will be in practice only what we are only now in position. In position we are covered by a foreign righteousness, a righteousness not of our own that comes by the Law, but that which comes through faith in Christ.

Q & A: Approaching Gay Children with Biblical Truth

Mom and Son

Question and answer from the Bible Answer Man broadcast.


Kelly in Kansas City, KS on BOTT radio: Hi, Hank. You articulate all  your answers so easily for all us non-theologians to understand.

My struggle is with my son, whom I raised in the Southern Baptist church and he’s been baptized and saved and around the age of seventeen he told me that he was a homosexual. I continue to struggle with that because I’m just not astute enough, I don’t think, or strong enough to talk to him biblically about that other than I told him about Sodom and Gomorrah. He was raised in the same church that I was. He’s got to know the truth. I’d welcome any advice you can give in regards to the situation.

Hank: Well, Kelly, we love our children. We love our children unconditionally and the reality is that there are children that have a said faith – in other words, they say they believe – and there are children who really believe. In either case, we love them, and we demonstrate through our life and through our love the reality of our faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

But in a practical way there are many things that you can say to him. When someone comes to you, whether a child or a friend or an acquaintance or someone you just cross paths with, and they say “I am a homosexual,” I think it’s important that you recognize the reality that they have stated something that is not true. Someone is not a homosexual in the sense of an identity, and that’s typically that’s what they mean when they say “I’m a homosexual.” They say “This is my identity,” and homosexuality is not an identity. Homosexuality is a behavior. His identity is a male just as your identity is a female. So he’s talking about a behavior and sometimes with gentleness and respect, to demonstrate that he’s talking about a behavior is something that opens someone’s eyes.     And now the question becomes, if you’re a genuine follower of Jesus Christ then you will heed His words. Jesus ratified the entirety of the Law of the prophets and therefore He has set parameters around our lives because He loves us and He wants our joy to be fulfilled and complete in every way. He’s not a cosmic killjoy for your son or for anybody else. What He is is one who set parameters around our lives because if we violate those parameters there’s going to be damage that’s done to us physically and metaphysically. Sin has its consequences. So if I’m involved in sin it has its consequences just as when he’s involved in sin it has its consequences.

So the question now becomes are we going to set our sights, our standards for the course of our life by shooting stars or by the North Star? If we set the course for our lives by shooting stars, then we follow popular opinion and whatever is politically correct at a given period of time. If you look at Obama, for example. He has completely reversed his stand on same-sex sexuality in many ways, including his views on marriage in this regard. Well, he’s setting his course by shooting stars. He’s looking at whatever is politically correct, he’s looking at trends, and now truth is determined by those trends.

If you’re a Christian, however, what you say is “Look, I am going to set my standard by the Word of God because God knows what’s best for me and therefore the owner’s manual becomes meaningful to me and I’m going to set the course of my life based on Scripture. So I’m going to fail, I’m going to sin,” and in his propensity, his homosexuality, he may sin in that way, but that simply means that he’s going to repent of that sin, and even if he falls again he’s going to repent again of that sin, recognizing that God is just and faithful and righteous and will forgive him of his sin and cleanse him from all unrighteousness.

So whether you’re a homosexual sinner or a heterosexual sinner, the real issue is not whether you sin – we all sin – the real issue is do we want to do it God’s way, which is repentance, a change of the heart, a change of mind. It’s a change of the will. It’s moving in a different direction, saying let’s do it God’s way. So if he’s involved in homosexual behavior and repents of that, even if he falls again, God will forgive him. But if he says “I don’t really care what God says. I’m going to do it my own way,” then it’s a demonstration that he hasn’t really repented to begin with.

Kelly: Right and I understand that. It’s just that there’s all these churches now that are cropping up that are twisting God’s Word and using every phrase, including the Sodom and Gomorrah example, and trying to disprove the origin of what happened there was and convincing people that it is okay and making it more of an identity rather than a behavior publicly to promote the homosexual agenda.

Hank: It’s not only that, but they want to be politically correct. This is why James says “Let not many of you be teachers because with teaching there is a stricter judgment.” Ideas have consequences and people that go with political correctness are not helping anyone.

If it all became politically correct by saying that cancer is not harmful to the human body and the whole of the medical profession went in the direction of saying “Don’t worry about cancer, it’s not going to hurt you,” it doesn’t mean cancer is not going to hurt you. The reality is that it will hurt you. And the same thing is true not only with the physical body, but it’s true with the metaphysical aspects of our humanity. You can’t contradict your own biology and get away with it. There is a consequence to that, and to save someone from that consequence means that you tell them the truth. To not tell them the truth is to be homophobic. This is precisely what pastors in the pulpit are doing today. Why? Because they don’t want to risk being controversial. They’re not protecting the sheep. They’re letting the wolves into the sheep pen. Why? Because they care about their careers more than they care about the canon of Scripture or about truth.

So while I can’t judge anybody’s heart, I can say in general terms that’s typically what’s happening. So we’re capitulating to the culture as opposed to being change agents in the culture. And I can tell you this: the very same arguments that are today being used with regard to same-sex sexuality can oftentimes be applied to group sex, to bestiality to incest to all kinds of other things that are not helpful to the human condition. We can see this over and over again in myriad ways. If you look at all the statistical categories with respect to sociology when it comes to same-sex sexuality you find that uniformly they point in one direction – that a father/mother coupling is better than a father/father, mother/mother coupling for the good of the child, for the good of the family, for the good of society. All the indicators point in that direction. So when people point in a different direction it’s because it’s politically correct, not because it is best for the family or best for the child. So the indicators point in a different direction. They point in the direction of God’s infallible Word, not in the direction of what has become politically correct and popular.

And again, as Christians, instead of being microcosms of the culture we need to be cultural initiators, not cultural imitators, and that, unfortunately has become what the church has become at large. It’s imitating the culture. So we’re baptized secular humanists. We’re baptized, but we’re still doing it the world’s ways.

Kelly: I like that. I appreciate your time. It’s always a pleasure to hear you articulate so well. Thank you again.

Hank: God bless you, Kelly.

Q & A: A Man After God’s Own Heart

DAvid and Bathsheba

Question and answer from the Bible Answer Man broadcast.


Kay in St. Louis, MO: Hi. Thank you for taking my call, Mr. Hanegraaff. I am wanting you to plot a discourse, perhaps, on David on the phrase that he was a man after God’s own heart. It’s my understanding that that was stated early in his life, and yet later in his life with Uriah, Bathsheba incident, for example, he sins as dispassionately as he prays. Tell me your perspective on it. At the end of his life was he still a man after God’s own heart, do you think?

Hank: I don’t think there’s any question about it. He’s Israel’s quintessential king, he’s a man after God’s own heart. That is not because he doesn’t sin. It is because he desires fellowship with his heavenly father and therefore confesses his sin, most notably in Psalm 51 where he says “Have mercy on me, O God. According to your unfailing love, blot out my transgressions, cleanse me from my sins.” And he asks God to restore to him, grant to him a willing spirit and the joy of his salvation. “Create in me,” he says, “a pure heart, O God. Renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of my salvation. Grant a willing spirit to sustain me.” And then he says “Then I will teach transgressors your ways and sinners will turn back to you. Save me from blood-guilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.”

He was well aware that he not only had an affair with Bathsheba, but as a result of that affair he had to have Uriah killed on the battlefront. So he had blood on his hands and this was pointed out to him in no uncertain terms when Samuel pointed a boney finger at him and said “You are the man, the man who has taken someone else’s wife.” And Samuel used an illustration to get through to David, who was living in denial with respect to his own sin. And this was not even the greatest of his sins. I mean, it was a great sin, but there were many other great sins in David’s life, including the census that he took, demonstrating that he was leaning on the arm of flesh rather than on the arm of God.

And David is not just anyone. He is the leader of God’s people and therefore his responsibilities and his judgment is a stricter judgment, very much like what James says about teachers. “But not many of you should be teachers because in teaching there is a stricter judgment.” So David sinned horribly, but he had a heart that panted after God as a deer pants after water brooks.”

Kay: So you believe that his repentance after the fact is reason for that statement to continue to be true throughout his life.

Hank: Yeah, because he cared about God’s Law and he recognized that that Law was significant in that it ultimately was the schoolmaster that pointed him towards the coming King Who would forever sit upon the throne of David – David, of course, being Israel’s quintessential king – that promise fulfilled in Jesus Christ. So he’s looking forward to the promise. And so David, like Abraham, like the patriarchs, was not fulfilled through the Law but fulfilled through faith. The Law, the types and the shadows, temple priests, sacrifice, all of that was merely pointing forward to the coming of Jesus Christ, and that was why he actually says later on in this same psalm, “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it. You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. No, the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Then he says “May it please you to make Zion prosper, to build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then there will be righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings to delight you; then bulls will be offered on your altar.” So he’s looking past temple priests and sacrifices to what temple priests and sacrifice signified, the ultimate sacrificial Lamb who would take upon Himself the sins of the world.

Kay: Could it be said of modern man, women, that someone who has, in fact, lived a life and then they fail. We have those Godly men and women who unfortunately make a false step in one direction that is not a godly step, but their heart still is following heart after God?

Hank: We cannot be cavalier about sin, and this is what contextualized it. I’m really glad that you pressed me on this, because this needs to be said as well, and I probably would have neglected to say this, but it’s really tying a ribbon around the package, if you will: If you look at David’s life, the one thing you see is that a sword never leaves his family. In other words, the consequences of his sin followed inexorably like night follows day. While he was forgiven, there were consequences to his sin, and I say the same thing follows today. There are consequences to our sin and those consequences follow just like night follows day or day follows night. So we can’t simply sin in a cavalier fashion.

If we then confess our sins, we know that He’s faithful and just. He will forgive us of our sins, cleanse us from all unrighteousness, but that doesn’t mean that the consequences go away. There are consequences to sin. Those consequences can be great, indeed. If someone with a platform falls there is a big blemish on the name of Christ and that is no small thing when Christ’s name is dragged through the mud. But that does not eclipse their salvation. They are still saved, not by what they have done, but rather saved by what Jesus Christ, the Lord of the universe, has done on their behalf.

Kay: What would you say about the call on their life?

Hank: God uses broken vessels, is what I would say. I think that there is such a thing as restoration that takes place, even in ministry. But that restoration has to be sincere. Through that restoration God continues to use David to this day. He repented, though the sword never left his home, and we can see the consequences of his sin in graphic detail in the Scriptures today. I’m still edified when I read Psalm 51 or Psalm 139 in the Bible. It’s extraordinarily edifying to me as I see God’s grace in the midst of my sin.

The reality is, we can look at graphic examples like David and we can say, pounding our own chest, “Look at me, I have not done such a thing as David has done.” But I wouldn’t want my life flashed up on a screen on Sunday morning in a church. If it were, I would duck under the pew and I would hide because I am imperfect in thought, word and deed, and if all my impure thoughts, and words and deeds were flashed onto a screen Sunday morning, I would be embarrassed. This is simply a recognition that we are all sinners in need of a Savior. That’s why Paul can call himself the worst of sinners, because he has come closest to the brilliance of God’s holiness and seen in the light of God’s holiness the full extent of his own sins.

Kay: Do you think we’re too judgmental on these leaders who fall?

Hank: I think many times we are, but to say that a leader falls is not a small thing, nor should we be cavalier about it, but we should be willing, not to run away from them, but to run towards them and help them in the process of restoration, recognizing that we, too, are sinners in need, when we fall, someone picking us up, dusting us off again and recognizing that God is our ultimate judge.

AfterLife

Hank Hanegraaff gives a poignant overview of what happens in the hereafter as presented in his book, AfterLife: What You Need to Know about Heaven, the Hereafter & Near-Death Experiences.

Q & A: Salvation and the Judgment of Works

In the beginning

Question and answer from the Bible Answer Man broadcast.


Gregory in Salt Lake City, UT, on KUTR: I was a Mormon, a very devout Mormon, nine kids, the whole ball of wax, for 46 years. Recently a Christian. I’ve got two questions. I’ll ask the second question first so you’ll know where my first question is going to lead to.

The Bible clearly says that we’re all going to be judged according to our deeds. So that’s the second question. Let me set that up with the first question. You know when you deal with a Seventh-day Adventist, a Jehovah’s Witness or a Mormon, one of the most difficult things is the Pharisaical or the Judaiser type attitude of it’s works, it’s works, it’s works. The Mormons’ third article of faith even says mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws – which we know is impossible according to Romans – and ordinances. So here is my question: Would the apostle Paul be upset with me if I used this example with a Mormon friend? You have a brain tumor and it’s going to kill you. A physician walks up to you and says “I’ve got the skills, I’ve got the expertise. I can fix that brain tumor. I can make it like it never happened.” So you accept this person’s gift and you say okay. So he puts you on the table and he fixes you. Now, what reason would you have to boast knowing that you really had nothing to do with this? Is that kind of the message that Paul is trying to communicate? A physician is healing you and you, the patient, had nothing to do with it other than to accept what the physician was going to do for you? How do you tie that notion of we’re all judged according to our works?

Hank: First of all, great illustration and well-articulated question. I appreciate the way you’ve put this together. This is one of the things we so often miss in evangelical Christianity. We talk about one side of the equation and not the other side of the equation. It is true that we are saved by God’s grace through faith on account of Jesus Christ alone, not of works lest anyone boast. Paul’s very clear about that in Ephesians 2:8-9, explicitly stating that but also many other places as well. In fact, the panoply of Scripture communicates that very thing.

However, the other side of the equation that you allude to is that while you cannot work for your salvation, you can work from your salvation and what you will do in the end will be judged. Which is to say there are degrees of reward in heaven and degrees of punishment in hell. This is precisely what Paul is driving at when he points out that no one can lay another foundation other than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But on that foundation we can build either using wood, hay and straw or gold, silver and costly stones. The Day of the Lord is going to reveal what kind of material we use to build on the foundation of Jesus Christ. If it is discovered that we are using inferior materials, then they will be consumed by the breath of the Lord’s mouth, but we ourselves will escape as one escaping, Paul says, out of a burning building.

So the image there is that there some who will have little to show for the time they spent on earth. So if you look at the grand picture, so to speak, when the Lord appears a second time, there is that separation of sheep and goats. Jesus said “Do not be amazed at this. A time has come when all who are in their graves will come out, some will rise to live” – the sheep – “and some will rise to be eternally condemned” – the goats. But then we’re going to be judged according to what we have done. And that’s why Jesus says over and over again “Do not store for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust corrupt and where thieves break in and steal, but store for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not corrupt and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, your heart will be also.

So it’s important to recognize that we are saved by God’s grace through faith on account of Jesus Christ alone, but we are saved unto good works.

Gregory: So judgment and salvation are different. So you can have salvation but God is still going to judge you after He’s promised you salvation.

Hank: There’s no question about that.

Gregory: He’s going to say yes, you are saved, however, He’s going to consider the deeds that you’ve done. Can you elaborate more?

Hank: It’s what Jesus essentially said. You can follow this thread through the entirety of the Bible, but you start at the beginning and you pull the thread right back from Revelation to Genesis, the idea is “Behold, I’m coming soon. My reward is with me. I’ll give to everyone according to what He has done.” Again, this is an indication that what we do now counts for all eternity. My dad used to describe this as people in heaven looking like pails that are full of water although they are different sized pails. In other words, some are going to have enlarged responsibilities and capabilities in heaven, but the beautiful thing in heaven is, here, when someone has a greater platform than someone else we can be jealous. We can be envious. But there we will look at another station in life eternal without even a modicum of jealousy or envy. We will absolutely be thrilled with the station that God gives to someone else.

Remember we’re not all going to be clones in heaven. We are going to have our own identities. The DNA that makes you you, Gregory, and the DNA that makes me me, will be our DNA for all eternity, although that DNA will be renewed or resurrected in a restored universe and will flower to what it was intended to be if sin had never entered the world. But you’re going to have your own pattern. You’re not going to be a clone of me and I’m not going to be a clone of you. We are going to be those who have their own DNA flourished to complete perfection, and you’re going to have a station in life that’s different from my station in eternal life. We will have different responsibilities and opportunities.

Gregory: I’m glad that you’ve explained that because it confuses me when some of my fellow Christians say you’re saved and that’s it and then I hear talk about being judged by deeds and rewards and I’m glad that you’ve explained that because it has confused me somewhat.

Hank: A lot of Christians are confused at that level and I think that’s because while this theme was a constant theme in the ministry of Jesus Christ, it is not much of a theme in contemporary sermons. Because of that I devoted an entire chapter to this subject in both my books Resurrection as well as in my book Afterlife.

Gregory: So true Christians all get salvation but the reward is not the same.

Hank: That’s precisely right, yes. We work from our salvation, we don’t work for our salvation. The illustration that I pointed to and I outline in my book Resurrection is really quite significant. I’m thrilled with this notion of what Paul says in 1 Cor. 3. He says “No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” He says “If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is because the day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it’s burned up he will suffer loss. He himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”

So he’s illustrating the sober reality that some Christians are going to be resurrected with precious little to show for the time they spent on earth. They are going to be saved, but only – again, as Paul says – as one escaping through the flames. And this is going to be the lot of even the most visible Christian leader whose motive in ministry was selfish rather than selfless.

So again, in this chapter – and I’ve got a whole chapter on it – I point out that we must all, as Paul says, appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. That’s 2 Cor. 5. And that is not speaking of the reward of salvation, but rather the rewards of service. So the more we live lives that deserve reward, the more we end up bringing glory to our heavenly Father.

Again, I’ve written about this in two different places, Resurrection and my book Afterlife. Great question, Gregory. Welcome to the forever family of God and may we continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Proposition 8 and the Church

In the beginning

Question and answer from the Bible Answer Man broadcast.


Q: In light of what the Supreme Court said concerning Proposition 8 and gay marriage, what should the church do?

A: At the end of the day, I think it’s so critical that we are able to demonstrate that the Bible is divine as opposed to merely human in origin. Because if you don’t have a North Star by which to set your sail, anything will go—you’ll start setting your standards by the size and scope of the latest lobby group.

God has set the parameters around human sexuality so that our joy might be complete. When we disrupt that, we end up doing so not only to our own hurt but also to the hurt of society in general. And I think therefore it’s incumbent upon Christians always to be ready to give an answer, a reason for the hope that lies within them, with gentleness and with respect—to be able to demonstrate that the ultimate authority is the Word of God. Because the basic sentiment today is that the Bible is outdated; it’s outmoded; it’s no longer relevant. And we can demonstrate of course as Christians that it is relevant; it is not outdated; it has the answers to every situation that we encounter, and most certainly the answers with respect to human sexuality.

Q: If the Bible is outdated, then God is outdated—all Scripture is given by inspiration of God—God can’t be outdated. Maybe a Model T can be outdated, but not God. A God that can be outdated is a limited God. Wouldn’t you say that’s true?

A: He is the One who spoke, and the universe leapt into existence. The One who knit us together in our mother’s womb. He’s the One who has created us for eternity and therefore He knows precisely what we are designed for. And this is ultimately what happens in repentance: we have a u-turn on the road of life—a change of heart, a change of mind, a change of the will—and we start doing it God’s way. But when we look at what’s happening in the culture, we have to look back at the church. When the church ceases to be a cultural initiator and becomes a cultural imitator, what happens is the culture devolves. And that’s why it’s critically important that we have reformation in the church in order to have, ultimately, revival in the culture. If reformation doesn’t take place in the church, then the culture will continue to devolve, and it most certainly is not only in a slide, it is now in an actual freefall.

Q: Oh, absolutely Hank. One more question real quick. When someone says, “It’s all about love…”

A: You have to define what “love” is. And I think part and parcel of the church’s response with respect to love is to have a commitment to others, to tell them the truth, no matter what the cost. If I am a cancer specialist and you have cancer, and I tell you I love you but do nothing whatsoever to help you, when it is in my power to do so, I am demonstrating that I don’t love you at all. And I think the same thing is true of a church that fails to tell the culture that what is happening is detrimental to people. I mean, you look at the matter of the social sciences—cross-cultural studies simply don’t lie—and they are virtually unanimous in demonstrating that a child is better served by a mother and a father than a father-father or a mother-mother coupling. Not only so, but the moment that you start to use the reasoning prowess of the Supreme Court or the Obama administration, when it comes to same-sex marriage, you start to set a precedent. And that precedent can equally apply to many other couplings. It can apply to aberrations ranging from polygamy to incest. And again, we have to be able to give an answer with gentleness and with respect. And if we don’t give an answer, it is a demonstration that we simply do not care as we should.

Hank Hanegraaff