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Bible Questions and Answers, Part 43

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
August 5, 2022 4:00 am

Bible Questions and Answers, Part 43

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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August 5, 2022 4:00 am

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If you love me, you'll keep my commandments. Jesus linked loving Him with obeying Him, loving Him with keeping His commandments. A believer is one who loves Christ.

That's the essence of Christianity. From time to time, John MacArthur, pastor, chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, and the featured Bible teacher here on Grace to You, from time to time he will set aside an evening service to answer questions from his congregation at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. Well, today you get to listen in on one of those Q&A sessions, so stay here as John answers questions that more than likely you've had as you've studied God's Word.

Now, here's the first question from a member of Grace Church's congregation, and then you'll hear John's answer. My question is concerning the death of Christ, and I know that the word faith people are teaching a very erroneous teaching on the death of Christ and going to hell and being born again and so forth, but it seems like some sound teachers are denying the spiritual death of Christ along, you know, to kind of dispute what the word faith people are saying. And I'd like you, if you would, to answer the question, did Christ die spiritually on the cross and what are some of the scriptural texts in regard to that? Well, spiritual death is usually defined as separation from God, and in that sense I would say, yes, Christ did die spiritually. We know He died physically. I mean, that's obvious because they crucified Him and He yielded up His Spirit, right? They ran a spear into His side and out came the pericardial fluid mixed with blood which indicated probably that His heart had burst and so we know He died physically. What beyond that He experienced was a separation from God, and I believe in that sense there was a spiritual alienation, there was a spiritual death. A spiritual death is alienation from God and Jesus articulated that when He said, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? And I think in the experience of bearing sin in His own body, literally Paul says, being made sin for us, the separation occurred. And so I think there was a spiritual element to His death. Now obviously His nature was not defiled, okay? And that's the caveat that you have to place there. While He bore the sins of many, He Himself never became a sinner.

That's the mystery of it. He was made sin in the sense that all our sin was placed upon Him, but He Himself was not culpable so that His death was a voluntary substitutionary death and not one for His own iniquity. And that's where the word faith people just completely misrepresent the death of Christ. They have Christ dying on the cross as a sinner, going to hell, and they're suffering punishment for His sins and then being born again and coming back to the world on His resurrection morning.

But you're right, in disputing that, we cannot dispute the reality that Christ was made sin and in being completely covered with sin, He was alienated from God, which is the essence of what spiritual death is. Besides the reference in Matthew, do you have any other Scripture that would talk about that separation? I know in Psalm 22 that's a reference to that. Well, yeah, that's because that's where He drew that from, from Psalm 22.

Just off the top of my head, I'm trying to remember if there's any specific one. My mind is drawn to Colossians chapter 2 where it says that the certificate of debt, verse 14, consisting of decrees against us which was hostile to us, which was the accumulated sin, the debt that we had accrued against God. He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. And I think, again, what this is saying is that the whole body of sin was placed upon Christ and nailed with Him there. And I think it's just inherent in that that there will be an alienation from God as He bears this sin. Another text that comes to mind is in Hebrews where we see Christ depicted as the scapegoat, as the one who has to suffer, you remember, outside the camp. You remember the scapegoat? The high priest would put his sins on the scapegoat and then he would be taken outside the camp indicating that sin was taken away. Christ is the scapegoat, He suffers without the camp. And there again you have the same concept of alienation where He is sent out into the wilderness bearing sin. But I can't just off the top of my head think of any other specific statement with that regard.

Do you have any in mind? Well, the verse in 1 Peter chapter 3 verse 18, for Christ also hath suffered for sins the just for the unjust that He might bring us to God, and then it says, being put to death in the flesh but quickened by the Spirit. And I'm wondering that quickened by the Spirit, is that...what is that? No, what I think that means and what I think you have to hold there and it's why I wouldn't refer this verse particularly to this issue. I think it simply means He was dead physically but He was alive in His Spirit. In other words, that would be true of anybody who dies, right? I mean, you can kill the body but you can't kill the soul. And I think that's what it means, that His body was killed but His soul did not go out of existence. So when we talk about spiritual death, we're not talking about someone's soul going out of existence. And it tells us there that being alive in the Spirit, He then went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison. It is true that He did go to the abode of demons but He didn't go there to suffer, He went there to preach. So all that saying is that while His body was dead, the real Christ was still alive. That doesn't speak of the alienation that He experienced on the cross in bearing sin, okay?

Good question, thank you. Recently a friend and I had some discussions concerning the amount of information that is needed for salvation. We were discussing the heathen in Africa question. And his point was that a person could actually be saved without actually having the name of Jesus Christ mentioned or having the gospel like the word of God read to him or preached to him because God could actually speak to that person and they would be saved much the same way as Abraham was saved in Romans 4 where Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as his righteousness. And I disagreed with him and I said I think no because God has given the Word that that is what needs to be brought to them and I brought to him Romans 10 that the preacher needs to come and so we come to you at this point.

I think you're exactly right. In the first place Abraham was deemed to be saved because he believed the revealed Word of God, not because of some private conversation. Any Old Testament saint could be said to be saved or in faith believing God when he believed all that God had revealed at that point. And it wasn't just all that God had revealed to him, but all that God had disclosed about Himself.

And there obviously is a saving amount of truth. Abraham could not have been saved simply if he had known God was a Creator. He had to know God was a Savior. He had to understand his sin and it was abundantly clear even in the early chapters of Genesis, wasn't it, that God had a standard of righteousness and that God would judge one who violated that standard.

We see that with Adam and Eve, that God instituted symbols of the sacrifice of His Son early on in the proper offering that Abel brought. So all of that, and you can go back into the Old Testament and you can see many, many indications that there was a full knowledge that God was a God of righteousness and wrath and that men were sinners and that God had provided an atonement and that there was to be a provision for sin and if men would believe all that God had revealed about that up to a given time, that God would account that as faith and grant them salvation. When you come to the New Testament, it is unequivocal in the New Testament, once the New Testament has been revealed, that the gospel must be understood and believed.

Nothing short of that. Verse 30 of Acts 17, Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world and righteous through a man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising him from the dead. In other words, there was a time when God was patient and tolerant, but now He's commanding all men to repent and the whole heart and soul of that repentance message is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Faith comes by hearing a speech about Christ.

This is not true. It is not possible to become a believer apart from understanding the gospel. Now, whether you know the name Jesus or the name Christ or the name Lord Jesus Christ or part of that or none of that, you certainly would have to understand that He was God in human flesh and was the perfect substitute for sin who paid the penalty for your sin and believe in His death and resurrection. And that basically has to be communicated from, say, a missionary or another person. It is is conceivable that God could put that in the heart of an individual. It is possible that God could do that. I don't want to say that God could not do that. It is conceivable that He has chosen people somewhere that He'll have to reach like that, but it is more reasonable to assume that He knows where His elect are and take to them someone to preach the truth. I mean, we don't want to say that God is capable of electing and redeeming.

He just can't figure out how to get the Word to Him. So, you know what I'm saying. But I don't want to say that there couldn't be a situation where God could not reveal Himself in the heart because it is conceivable that He could do that. It wouldn't be certainly for me to say that God could never do that.

He could disclose the gospel supernaturally to someone if He chose to do that. And that may be the case. I don't know.

But to say that that's a norm, no, and to say that they don't have to hear the gospel is wrong. I see. Okay? There's more that could be said about that, but maybe that kind of gets you going on the right path. You see, that leans in a very disastrous direction because now you're going to dispossess people of the responsibility to go and now you're going to want to let anybody who believes basically anything in. And look, the gospel is Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Don't even get close to that. They are way in the other direction saying there are a lot of people who know all the right stuff and aren't even saved. To say nothing of people who would be saved and don't know anything. I mean, that's so far away that the warnings of Scripture are directed at people who know but whose faith is not saving faith. You understand what I'm saying there? It's not the other way. He doesn't say, well, you know, if anybody's got some kind of a general idea about what's going on, they're in.

Not hardly. Many will say unto me, Lord, Lord, and not enter in. What about the people who don't even know what to say?

What chance have they? Okay? Hi John, could you talk about children and communion and should they wait until they're baptized to take communion? That's a good question. I think it's so hard to know specifically in the life of a child when they reach the age when genuine salvation occurs.

I mean, I watched my own four children growing up. Never did they rebel against Christ. At what point was their childlike faith saving faith? I don't know. But as soon as they wanted to participate, we were willing to let them.

And I think they need to come to a certain level. I remember the first time my father had a conversation with me about it. He's reminded me several times and he said, we're going to the Lord's Supper tonight and we want you to come and it will be your first time.

And I said, well, I hope they don't have peas. And his basic response was, I think we'll wait a while. So what I'm trying to say is that there may be an appropriate time to start letting a child participate. When they understand, I think it can be instructive. And I don't think that you should become necessarily legalistic and say, you know, baptism is the entree into that. I think it can be instructive at a time when children understand its meaning and they believe in their hearts that they believe. I mean, it would be hard to say to, say, a seven- or eight-year-old who says, I love Jesus and I've asked Him into my heart. Well, I'm not sure this is really true and we don't know whether we ought to let you do this.

If it's their good intention to honor Christ and they understand that we're remembering His death and resurrection, then I think the intent of their heart is consistent with the intent of God in the service, that that's good instruction and then they'll reach a point at some juncture when that saving faith is real and that service has its full meaning to them. Okay? Thank you. Good. Yes? If Adam and Eve were the first two people...

Wait a minute, was that again? If Adam and Eve were the first two people? How did we get so many racials? How did we get so many races? Oh, that's a good question. This is a very complex question, but let's go at it another way. The races that we experience today didn't really come from Adam and Eve.

You know why? Because everybody on the face of the earth got drowned, except for Noah and his three sons and their wives. So all the races came from Noah and Mrs. Noah, the three little junior Noahs, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And they were all, you remember, rescued in the flood and they came back and began to populate the earth. They obviously through the years adapted themselves to their area and they, of course, began to develop and all the races eventually came. But apart from what might be the scientific and historical explanation is the statement of Acts 17 where it says, The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands, neither is He served by human hands, as though He have need of anything, He made from one every nation.

So that's the best answer. Acts 17, verse 26, God from Noah and Mrs. Noah and Shem, Ham, and Japheth created the nations. Now one major component in that happened at the Tower of Babel, of course, where God scattered all the nations all over the face of the earth and changed their languages. So the best answer is right there in Acts 17, God did it.

And God sort of tweaked their ears and tweaked their eyes and their nose and their color of their skin and all those genetic unique things in His creative power through the process of providential genetics to create all the different races. Okay? Hi, John, my name is Stephen and I was wondering if you could articulate for me your own personal theology. I know that you came from a dispensational background and I was wondering if you could talk about kind of like the history of your study in the Bible and being confronted with covenant theology and how you've sort of come to the conclusions you've come to and when that happened.

Well, let's see. I was born at a very early age and fortunately was born near my mother and let's see, what else? No, I was raised in a dispensational environment, there's no question.

People used to say of me that his hope is built on nothing less than Schofield's notes and Moody Press. And I sort of grew up in that dispensational environment but as I got into seminary I began to test some of those things and I have been perhaps aptly designated as a leaky dispensationalist. Or the Reformed people who want to claim me as Reformed say I'm Reformed but confused. But here's my dispensationalism, okay?

I'll give it to you in one sentence. There's a difference between the church and Israel, period. If you understand that, you understand the essence of what I believe is a legitimate biblical dispensationalism. That permits a kingdom, that demands a kingdom and that makes you premillennial because if you believe there's a distinction between Israel and the church, then the church is not Israel.

And if the church is not Israel, the promises of a kingdom to Israel have to come to pass and that's why you have to have a kingdom. I came to understand that more narrow definition of dispensationalism while in seminary, at least to begin to understand it and found that my study of Scripture over the last 30 years has yielded an affirmation that that is in fact correct. At the same time in seminary I began to be exposed to reading among more Reformed theologians and found myself drawn toward carefully examining the Scripture and over the years of exegeting the Scripture, it has again yielded to me a Reformed theology. But it is the byproduct of exegesis.

I've always said a man has no right to claim a theology if he's not an exegete because how can you know what the whole is if you can't interpret the parts? So it's been a process. I was convinced of it when I started and I'm more convinced of it now as I've gone through the text. I was convinced of it when I started because I read so many noble men who held that view. It was more at that point hero worship and now it's become my own, okay? That's squeezing it, okay? Okay, one final question.

Thank you. Yes, a Mormon asked me this question a number of years ago and two of the years here at church I've asked a number of people this question. There seems to be a divided opinion on it and I wanted to get your opinion. So people ask, she asked me, it was a Mormon lady asked me when I was witnessing to her, do you have to believe in the Trinity to become a Christian? And I didn't know how to answer at the time.

I would answer yes. If you don't believe in the Trinity, then you don't understand who God is. You may say the word God, but you don't understand His nature. Secondly, you couldn't possibly understand who Christ is.

I know what I'm saying when I say that. It's going to not only impact people that you may have witnessed to, but there are even people who believe in a kind of modalism where God is God for a while and then He gets to be Christ for a while and He gets to be the Holy Spirit for a while, but He's never all three at the same time. It is my conviction that true salvation is built upon an understanding of the deity of Jesus Christ, that He is both God, fully God, and that God at the same time is fully God, and that that's the whole point of what He did in the gospels. I mean, Jesus was never satisfied with having people accept Him as anything other than God, not just God the Son, but God what?

The Father. I think that was the whole thing that He was demonstrating was the Trinitarian nature of God. So I think not to understand the Trinity is not to understand who God is and it's not to understand who Christ is, and therefore it's not to understand the gospel properly. The same question arises about the virgin birth. I would say a person could become a Christian if they didn't know about the virgin birth because they would assume that Jesus Christ must have had a unique birth if He was both God and man, right? But if someone says, I would deny the virgin birth, then all you've got is a man. You've got something less than the incarnate God. It is conceivable that somebody would say, no, he wasn't born of a virgin, he was born of Joseph and Mary and God just infused the logos spirit into him and it could get a little confused that way. But basically, I think you need to believe that God is expressed fully in Christ and yet exists as God and that the Spirit of God was doing the work through Christ.

That's what He said and anything less than that. He said, if you don't see the Spirit working in me, what is that? Blasphemy. So I think the Trinity is inherent to the gospel understanding.

Good question. Let's bow in prayer. Father, thanks for a great evening. Go with us now to strengthen us to serve you, we pray in our Savior's name. Amen. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur.

Thanks for being with us. We broke from our regular schedule today to air a special time of Bible questions and answers recorded at the church John pastors here in Southern California. We hope he answered a question you had. Well, John, I love these Q&A sessions, and one thing our listeners need to know is that you don't know what questions are coming at you.

You don't get to review a list of these ahead of time. You're just up there, and these come at you blind, and yet always, it seems to me, you have an answer that draws on some biblical principle or some key text in Scripture, and it's really a good illustration of how sufficient the Bible is, because for whatever question we might have, ultimately, there is some truth in the Bible that gives us an answer. Yeah, I enjoy the Q&A sessions, and I feel comfortable doing it because of the fact that all the answers are in the one book. So I might not be able to answer philosophical questions because I would have to be widely read to understand philosophy, but when it comes to biblical questions, having spent my life in the Bible, I know essentially what God's Word says about most people's questions. The point of writing the MacArthur Study Bible notes, well, now what, 25 years ago, was to put the answers in the Bible so that people don't need to ask the questions.

Right. They ask them anyway, though. Well, they always want to go beyond what— you give an answer in the notes in the MacArthur Study Bible, and that's fine as far as it goes, but that leads to other questions, and that's great.

I love that as well. But a good place to start with all your questions, and if you're reading the Bible, you will have questions. A great place to start getting answers is with the copy of the MacArthur Study Bible. There are 25,000 footnotes on every single page explaining what you're reading in the Scripture, giving you background, culture, geography, language.

That all is part of getting to the meaning of the text, explaining hard-to-understand passages and all those kinds of things. So you need to have a copy of the MacArthur Study Bible. It comes in the New American Standard, which I use, the New King James, the ESV.

It's available in Spanish, German, French, Russian, Chinese, Italian, Arabic, Portuguese, and of course, great prices, as always, from Grace to You. Get a copy of the MacArthur Study Bible, and you'll have the notes that explain the meaning of the Bible, and so many of your questions will be answered. Yes, and this all-in-one spiritual library will help you understand God's Word like you never have before. To order a copy of the MacArthur Study Bible for yourself or as a gift, get in touch today. Call us toll-free at 800-55-GRACE, or visit our website, Again, the MacArthur Study Bible comes in several English and non-English translations, and also a variety of bindings, including premium leather.

To see all of the choices, go to the website, Or you can call us during normal business hours, and our customer service team can help you choose the Bible that's right for you. Call 800-55-GRACE, and let me remind you of the impact you have when you support Grace to You financially. Every day, people around the world are growing in biblical truth through this radio broadcast, through the thousands of Bible study resources available at, and from the free books or CDs that we distribute by mail each month. Know that it is listeners like you who make that life-changing ministry possible. You can make a donation by calling us at 800-55-GRACE, or donate online at That's our website, Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson, reminding you to watch Grace to You television this Sunday, and make sure you're here starting Monday when John helps you answer this question, What does it mean to be free in Christ? It's another half hour of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-15 23:56:17 / 2023-03-16 00:06:56 / 11

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