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Hey Pastor John,

I was thinking about the world during the time of the Bible and I want to know what you think. At what point do you think that the American Indians occur in biblical history? I have heard that they have similar stories of the flood in their folklore. Do you think that they were there after Pentecost time or before? And if after, could it be possible that they would have heard of Jesus or Holy Ghost? I’m wondering because there isn’t much that I have heard/read mentioned in the Bible that talks about other places in the world. It’s a funny question I guess but I still have been wondering for a while. 

Much obliged,

Jon Sellers

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Hi, Jon!

Just about every culture in the world has had a flood story because the true story was passed down by the eight survivors, and then, through the years, their descendants changed the flood story, changing some facts, adding some things and omitting some others.

As far as American Indians are concerned, I don’t know when they began living in North America.  That’s a question men have debated for a very long time.  But no man really knows.

Hope that helps.

Pastor John

 

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What Does ‘Zion’ Mean?

Pastor John, 

What does the word “Zion mean”?

Leika

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Hi Leika. 

The original meaning of the word, “Zion”, is unknown.  It appears at times to be associated with fish or fish nets, figurative or otherwise (e.g., Eccl. 9:12; Ezek. 12:13; 19:9), and at other times to mean something like “stronghold” (e.g., 1Sam. 22:4; 2Sam. 5:7). 

In time, especially in Psalms and the prophets, the small area within the very ancient city of Jerusalem that was known as “Zion” became synonymous with Jerusalem itself e.g., Ps. 48:12; 51:18).  And the term “Zion” is also used in Psalms and the prophets as a prophetic reference to the assembly of God’s people, or even to the people them selves (e.g., Ps. 74:2; 87:5; Isa. 60:14; 62:1-2). 

Pastor John

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Matthew 28:16-20 “The Great Commission”

Hi pastor John, 

What does “great commission” mean in Matthew 28:16-20?

Thank you,

Leika

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Hi Leika.

There is no “great commission” in Matthew 28:16-20.  That is a phrase Christians invented and applied to those verses to use as a tool of manipulation, to pressure people to donate to their evangelistic enterprises.

In Matthew 28:16-20, Jesus is only ordaining the ones with him then, the ones to whom he was then speaking – his disciples – to preach and to spread the gospel.  He was not speaking to you.  If Jesus ever tells you or me to go preach and to spread the gospel, then we should go do that, too.  In the meantime, we have no authority to do so, and we are under no obligation to support Christians who claim to have a commission to spread the gospel just because they read those verses in Matthew.

Only those whom Jesus personally anoints and sends have authority to preach and to spread his gospel.  Now, if Jesus DOES anoint and send a man, that is indeed a “great commission”.  But such a commission belongs only to those whom the living Jesus sends.  No scripture has the power to anoint and send men to preach the gospel of Christ.  “The scripture kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

Let us pray that Jesus will anoint and send many men to preach his gospel.  It is very much needed.  Whenever he does that, the difference is enormous between those holy men and the Christian missionaries who claim to have a “great commission” to evangelize, based on Matthew 28.

Thank you for the question, Leika.

Pastor John

 

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Jesus in Torment?

Uncle John, 

If Jonah was a figure of what would happen with Jesus, then was Jesus tormented like Jonah was for those three days? 

The way Jesus was talking about trusting his Father to not leave him in the heart of the earth (in Psalm 16:9-10) makes it seem that he didn’t want to go there any more than he wanted to go to the cross, or even come to earth to start with (Ps. 74:11).  I always thought that once Jesus died here on earth that his troubles and tormenting life were over, and the heart of the earth was just a pit stop along the way back to his father. But now i wonder if his pain and suffering didn’t end until things were put in order in heaven when he was with his father again?

Is that right?  

Abby 

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Hey, my sweet Abby! 

I recently found out that some leaders in the Charismatic Movement teach that Jesus was tormented in hell during the three days that he was in the heart of the earth.  However, that is hard for me to believe.  Jesus would have wanted out of the  heart of the earth (hell) because even the Paradise part of it was not a desirable place (though the Paradise part of hell was preferable to the Torment part).  After all, Abraham was in Paradise (Lk. 16:19ff), yet he was glad to see Jesus’ day (Jn. 8:56), for it brought him hope of getting out of the heart of the earth.  So, the Son of God, knowing that the Father would send him into the heart of the earth, would have spoken through the prophets about the Father’s faithfulness to get him out of that awful place. 

As for Jesus suffering torment in the heart of the earth, no righteous person was ever cast into Torment; so, unless Jesus’ taking on our sins made him unrighteous in God’s sight, he would not have been sent there.  Some will argue that when Jesus took on our sins, he DID become unrighteous in God’s sight.  And Paul did say that God made Jesus “sin for us, so that we might be made the righteousness of God in him ” (2Cor. 5:21).  So, “there you go”, as your cousin Elijah often used to say.  If one believes that taking on our sins made God’s Son worthy of suffering beyond the grave, verses exist that he can use to defend that position.  I just don’t see it that way.

Uncle John

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Seeing the Face of God

Hello Pastor John!!!

Studying…studying…studying…! This has perplexed me:

How do I reconcile the verses of

Genesis 32:30 and

Exodus 24:10 and

Exodus 33:11 and

Exodus 33:v18-23

with 1st John 4:12?????

We presume that NO MAN or WOMAN has ever seen the face of God, as John wrote. Yet, God appeared (as a messenger) to Jacob at Penuel; and in His glory to the elders of Israel in 24:10; and to Moses in the subsequent verses above. It even says “face to face” in Ex 33!!!

Can you clarify?

Brad

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Hi Brad!

Learning these things is exciting, isn’t it?

First, let’s consider Genesis 32:30, where Jacob wrestles an angel. Here is our translation of that verse:

Genesis 32

  1. And Jacob called the name of the place Penuel (1) because he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life was spared.” (2)

Let me point out that Jacob also said that seeing his fierce brother Esau (after 20 long years) was like seeing the face of God:

Genesis 33

  1. And Esau said, “I have much, my brother; keep what is yours for yourself.”
  2. And Jacob said, “No, please! I pray, if I have found favor in your eyes, take my gift from my hand because I have seen your face, as seeing the face of God, and you are pleased with me.

At Penuel, Jacob was so overwhelmed by his experience of wrestling all night with an angel, that he described it as seeing God face-to-face, but that is not what happened, any more than Jacob had seen the face of God when he met Esau. In a previous verse (Gen. 32:24), we are told that “a man wrestled with him until dawn.” But it wasn’t a man, either. The apostle John revealed to us that angels are, in general, the size of humans (Rev. 21:17), and anyone who has actually seen an angel knows. This is one reason the Bible sometimes refers to them as men, as in Genesis 18:2, but even there, the three “men” who visited Abraham are later revealed to be angels (Gen. 19:1), and one of them is even called Jehovah Himself (Gen. 18:22–33)!

But to get back to Jacob’s wrestling partner, the prophet Hosea got it right when he said that Jacob “contended with an angel and overcame” (Hos. 12:4).

Now, for Exodus 24:10

Exodus 24

  1. Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up.
  2. And they saw the God of Israel, and under His feet was something like a paved work of sapphire as pure as the sky itself.
  3. Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the chief men of the sons of Israel; they beheld God, and they ate and drank.

The controlling factor for any scripture in any book which speaks of someone seeing God, such as the following from Exodus 33, is what God Himself told Moses in Exodus 33:18–20:

Exodus 33

  1. And he said, “I pray, show me your glory.”
  2. And He said, “I will make all my goodness pass over before you, and I will proclaim ‘Jehovah’ by name before you. Moreover, I will show favor to whom I will show favor, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”
  3. But He said, “You cannot see my face, for no man sees me and lives.”

This is what John meant in 1John 4:12 when he wrote “No one has ever seen God”. Moses saw God (from behind):

Exodus 33

  1. And Jehovah said, “There is a place by me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22. And it shall come to pass, as my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I pass by.
  2. Then, I will take my hand away, and you will see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”

Isaiah saw God:

Isaiah 6

  1. In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple.

Amos saw God:

Amos 9

  1. I saw the Lord standing over the altar, and he said….

Others also saw God; however, none of them saw His face. Otherwise, they would have died; God said so! So, those verses mean only that those men were brought into the very presence of the Lord. (3)

By the way, someone may ask you a question about John 1:18, for in most translations, that verse is very similar to 1John 4:12. However, we chose to translate it this way: “No one has ever understood God; the unique Son who is next to the Father (4) made Him known.”

Finally, in Exodus 33:11, the phraseology is admittedly arresting, but what the write meant is only that Moses was in the very presence of God. The event that is being described is Moses’ occasional, private entrance into the Most Holy to speak alone with God, which no other man was ever again allowed to do. There with Moses in that holy place, God would audibly speak with Moses from between the cherubim which were built into the two ends of the mercy seat which covered the ark of the covenant within the Most Holy Place. (5)

Exodus 33

11. And Jehovah spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then he    returned to the camp, but his minister, Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not leave the tent.

Here is what that verse is talking about:

Exodus 33

  1. And Moses took the tent and pitched it outside of the camp, removing it from the camp. And he called it the tent of meeting, and everyone who sought Jehovah went out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp.
  2. And it came to pass, when Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood, each at the entrance of his tent, and they watched Moses until he went into the tent.
  3. And it came to pass, when Moses went into the tent, a pillar of cloud came down and stood at the entrance of the tent, and He talked with Moses.
  4. And all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, and all the people rose and bowed down, each at the entrance of his tent.
  5. And Jehovah spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then he returned to the camp, but his minister, Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not leave the tent.

I hope that clears things up. Please let me know if I can do more. And do pass on my love to those studying these holy things of God with you.

Love you all.

Pastor John

Footnotes:
(1)    That is, face of God
(2)    All translations are ours unless otherwise noted
(3)    It is interesting that in both Isaiah and Amos’ cases, the person they saw was the “Lord”, not the 3 “LORD”. Many times in the prophets, when they were moved to say “Lord” instead of “LORD” – and unbeknownst to them, of course – the Spirit was referring to the hidden Son, not to the Father. Jesus referred to one such case in Matthew 22:41–45, quoting Ps. 110:1.
(4)    Literally, “in the bosom of the Father”, a Greek idiom meaning “next to” or “close to”. See 4 13:23.
(5) About a dozen times in the Old Testament, God is said to “dwell between the cherubim” (e.g., 5 1Sam. 4:4; Ps. 80:1; etc.). And in Exodus 25:20, and 22, when God was telling Moses to built the tabernacle, He said, “the wings of the cherubim shall be spread out above, their wings overshadowing the mercy-seat, with their faces one toward the other. The faces of the cherubim shall face the mercy-seat…. And I shall meet with you there between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the testimony, and I shall speak to you from above the mercy-seat all that I command you for the children of Israel.”

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Your Anointing

Hi, John. 

We know you have an anointing to be a Pastor and Teacher for us.  Some, if not all of us have been healed in some way by you praying for us. I lot of us are here today because God put us on your heart.

Was there a time that you knew this, or was it a gradual thing that happened after Preacher Clark grew older?  I heard you say that God took over your education.  Did that happen during that time?

So glad that I was rescued in order to be here.

Thanks!

Billy

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Hi Billy.

As you have probably heard me say a few times, I have never claimed to be anointed and sent to heal the sick.  I have had no such experience, and have never asked even for it.  All I have ever asked Jesus for is enough power and wisdom to take care of the flock he has given to me. That’s all I have ever wanted, as far as miracle-working power is concerned, and with that, I am content.

I am very thankful that “the prayer of faith heals the sick”, and that the sick and hurting have at times been miraculously healed when I, or we as a group, have prayed for them.  I pray for that grace to continue with us.

Thank you for your question.  It was one worth asking, and I hope my answer is sufficient.  If not, let me know, and I’ll try again.

Love you, Brother Billy!

Pastor John

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Pray before Meals?

I love this Pastor John, from your recent email: “Wait to pray until the Spirit leads you to pray, and say in prayer only what you are moved by the Spirit to say.”  

In the church there is always a form like:

-opening prayer

-pray before the sermon

-pray after the sermon

-closing prayer

-pray for food to eat

I have a question about this, Pastor John.  Are we ought to pray before we eat?

Leika

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Hi Leika. 

There is no “ought to” in the kingdom of God, Leika.  There is only liberty.  You are free to pray off the Spirit leads you to pray, and you are free not to, if the Spirit does not lead you to pray.

Thank you for the question.  God bless you and yours.

Pastor John

 

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