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January 1, 2021 12:01 am
No matter the subject in theology, R.C. Sproul wasn't afraid to tackle hard questions. Today, he answers challenging questions from listeners about leaving a church, the intermediate state, and the gifts of the Spirit.
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Hi Dr. Spruill, my name's Zachary Loftis in first Corinthians 13 verses nine through 10 it says for we know in part and we prophesy in part.
When the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. My question is in regards the sign gifts. Would you please explain whether or not you believe the scientists have ceased Dr. RC Sproul answer that and other questions mixed on Renewing Your Mind. There are some passages of Scripture that are difficult to understand some interpreted one way others interpret the mother will need help sometimes understanding and applying passages like that.
So on today's program. We selected several excellent questions posted on for school and various events through his many years of ministry and were about to discover. RC wasn't afraid to take on the tough questions even from the skeptics.
My name is Nick and I listened in Pittsburgh and I have a question. Why are city described God as such a mean guy. He sounds more like Vito Corleone in a loving Jesus. Jesus sounds pretty loving most of the time, but God sounds like a real egotistical jerk.
Why would I want to worship him. I have no idea. I think for myself.
When I die, I think I'll be dead but if I'm not dead. I'd rather go to help, and go to heaven to be with God like that. Goodbye for your question certainly answer this question.
10,000 times as I can live 50 years of teaching theology. The first of all, that the question assumes that I present, God is a big meaning, and that the God that I described is as you suggested name whereas Jesus in the New Testament is so much more loving and kind than God, particularly the God of the Old Testament and the first of all let me say that it doesn't surprise me at all that you say that you would rather go to hell than to go to heaven and be in the presence of such a big meaning that I am presenting here, let me say to that, that I think there's a scintilla of meanness in God whatsoever.
In fact, what were looking at predominantly in the character of God is his holiness and I think that the thing that we dread more than anything else. Neck is that holiness and the problem is because he's holy and were not, and were always uncomfortable in the presence of the holy.
Remember when Peter became aware of the holiness of Christ. He said please depart from me, for I am a sinful man.
I'm in the last person that anybody in the hell wants to see and how is God, and for this very reason.
The reason we go to hell is a because we are in a state of profound and continuous rebellion against God.
You've expressed it well that the Scriptures tell us that by nature were in a state of enmity towards God. That is we hate him and we don't hate him because he's mean we hate him because he's holy and his holiness requires righteousness from us and we want to give it, and when we don't give it God manifests his holiness and his justice by punishing us for our wickedness and again if we hate him to start with and we disobey him because we hate him and then he punishes us for that. We just hate him all the more, and I would say than what you've expressed here today. Nick is at your exhibit a for natural man this is your natural tendency. This is what we all have by nature. This same hostility, antipathy towards the eternal God now you make a contrast between God the father and Jesus being mean and being loving. Sometimes we say that in the Old Testament, God seems to be much more concerned about justice than he is concerned about mercy and then you get to the New Testament.
You say Jesus is more concerned about mercy than he is about justice or about God's wrath.
Now the history of the Old Testament. On the other hand, if you read it from cover to cover. You will see again and again and again and again and again almost ad nauseam a story of the repeated grace of God against a rebellious people, and so the Old Testament is filled with illustrations and teachings about them ever lasting and merciful kindness of God with the most important Hebrew concepts in the Old Testament is the concept of consent which means God's covenant or tender, loyal mercy, and there's no place in all of Scripture were you see a more violent expression of God's wrath and justice than in the New Testament when you see the cross where Christ gives himself as a sacrifice for those of us who are alienated from God and he lays down his life for us and takes upon himself the just punishment of God for sin. Jesus wasn't playing games there and God wasn't playing games. There, God wasn't being mean to his son. He was requiring adjust payment for wickedness. If God did not punish wickedness.
He would not be just and if he were not just he would not be good.
And the fact that he is good and he is just may make him appear to you and to others to be mean but that is this slander against a righteous and holy God who does all things well and I just have to say to you, Nick, you need to repent of that, and soon, or you will regret it forever. Daniel Banting Allen 100.7 in Dallas or I would like that?
How are they about his understanding of the word Haiti hell. I've been Abraham was the highlight of picture taking another knock lab to reverent the original languages for the and it thinking that there is not a literal heaven at this time at the future and and it will die, Vinay purgatory, pain, and no waiting to me cry at the end time. But right now there is enough light of the thin convicted for lot on regular appreciate Frankie's hi Daniel and thank you for your question. That's a provocative question indeed first moment we look at the different words that are used in the Bible the word Hades, for example, is indeed the Greek word for the region of the dead or the underworld is traversed by the river Styx and all of that in Greek mythology but it was a common reference in the day to the place of destruction in the afterlife. And so it is been brought into Christian currency. As a synonym for how the Old Testament word that is used to she'll and it's not sharply defined. It's a somewhat vague concept of a shadowy place of where people go.
At the time of death, but in the New Testament we have progressive revelation that gives us more insight now in the history of Judeo Christianity. The place of paradise was often linked to what was called the bosom of Abraham, and in that sense, this paradoxical relationship was not a place of punishment or torment, but was a place of joy and in many respects is synonymous with the concept of heaven. Now the idea that heaven is something that we don't participate in until the new heaven and the new earth is on a collision course with Christian orthodoxy. The church has taught for 2000 years, and I think correctly so that these souls who depart this world go immediately into the presence of Christ into our heavenly state. It is a disembodied state.
It's what's called the intermediate state because our physical bodies have not yet been resurrected, but we will have a continuity of personal conscious existence in our souls and the apostle Paul. For example, describe the state of being present with the Lord.
Immediately upon death is going far better than what we enjoy in this world and that it is an immediate experience.
It's been argued by heretics taught the doctrine of psycho for Nikki or what is commonly called soul sleep that it death. People go into the state of suspended animation and they are not aware of any passage of time and so it seems like the twinkling of an eye between the moment they die, and when they awake in heaven. It seems like that to them just as we have the experience when we go to sleep at night were not conscious of missing eight hours of our existence when we wake up in the morning. It seems as though only moments have passed, but I think a careful look at the teaching of the New Testament on heaven makes it abundantly clear that there is no concept here of psycho for Nikki that even though Jesus says she's not dead, but she sleeping that's a New Testament euphemism for death, but you can't draw from that kind of language that the state of existence after death is one of some kind of suspended animation. So I would strongly disagree with the teaching that you received on this point will biblical clarity is so important we were dealing with questions like these are next question was asked during an ask RC broadcast at a woman wrote in to ask about her sister who was a professing Christian but said she wanted to leave her long marriage for another man.
This woman wanted to know what she should say to her sister and in circuit. What is the state of her sister's soul if she's willing to throw away a long marriage and her relationship with her children. Well, it's a difficult thing to because Harris not only a matter of principle, but there's also the question of prudence involved in. How does one approach of particular individual about this now. The Bible does give us some Prince appeal direction on this.
If we see our brother and in this case that's usually a metaphor for our spiritual brothers, but in this case it's her blood sister overtaken by sin is not an option is a duty to go to her and to plead with her to repent and if she doesn't, then it is the obligation of that older sister to take the matter to the church, particularly if this woman who wants to leave her husband because she's fallen in love with somebody else that that is a matter for church discipline because that woman who's deciding to do that is decided for the sake of her love for this other man to engage in what the Bible would consider to be a gross and heinous sin is sin severe enough that if she refused to repent of it could, and in fact should end in her excommunication from the body of Christ, so that decision that this woman who has her lover is facing is a decision that represents extreme peril to her so we can look at this one of two ways. If she professes to be a Christian is made. She is obviously to leave one's husband for an illicit lover, mother, how she's in love with this other man is an act of radical disobedience to God, which may demonstrate that her profession of faith is a false profession in the she's not a Christian at all and if she persists in that without repentance and then the church does excommunicate or what the church would be doing was be declaring her nonbeliever just because the church declares a person nonbeliever does not mean that they are an unbeliever, but the church says you don't have a credible profession of faith. At this point because the way you're living contradicts your profession of faith and also the purpose of excommunication is not simply to purify the church, but also to drive a person to repentance so that they if they are Christian will come to themselves repent and be restored to the body of Christ.
So the other option is that this is a person who's making a genuine profession of faith who simply caught up so emotionally in her love affair that she's about to make an act of betrayal to Christ and again that's a very, very serious thing.
It does an enormous damage to her spiritual growth and livelihood eye Dr. spell my name's Zachariah Loftis and first Corinthians 13 verses nine through 10 it says for we know in part and we prophesy in part. When the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. My question is in regards the sign gifts. Would you please explain what the perfect is and whether or not you believe the Sangha's deceased. I thank you, Zachariah. It couple of things. First of all, that phrase in first Corinthians 13 when the perfect comes, the these other things will pass away. Many people believe that the perfect that is referred to is the authoritative scripture provided by God that would make the sign gifts unnecessary beyond that point of the formulation of the apostolic teaching and that may or may not mean in terms of those words because those words are not given full explanation and definition by the apostle in first Corinthians 13.
He doesn't specifically tell us what he has in view about the perfect that is.
It's an assumption that the perfect revelation. The perfect final draft of Scripture is what he had in view.
I don't think that you can prove that beyond a shot of about that's the first part of the question. The second part of the question is though I think that the sign gifts are still in effect. Yeah I hate it when people asked me that question because of the reason I don't like it is because rarely do people understand what I'm saying when I answer my position because I must be that inarticulate or something but it has to do with the brilliant professional theologian. We use theological language. The term miracle is used in that the kind of precision that is not commonly used by the public. The fact that not a single word for miracle in the New Testament you have signs and powers and wonders, all of which we combined together and extrapolate a concept of the miraculous.
And I have a very narrow view of miracle. I believe that a miracle is something that is done in the outward perceivable world that only God can do that is an action contrary mentor them against nature and not just construct back at them against sin but against nature and I say in that narrow sense.
I believe that the sign gifts have ceased for the simple reason that in the New Testament.
The signs were given to authenticate the credentials of agents of Revelation.
Just as they were in the Old Testament, the supernatural signs were given to the prophets to confirm that they were teacher sent from God. Just like Nicodemus. I think he was sound when he said the Jesus teacher would know that your teacher sent from God or you would not be able to do the things that you do and the New Testament when trying to authenticate and vindicate its claim to final Revelation appeals to those sign gifts that were wrought by the agents of Revelation in the new covenant, namely the apostles. Now if the appeal is sound that the principal being that only an agent of Revelation can produce an authentic miracle by God, if that's a sound argument than obviously non-Asians of Revelation did not have the capacity to be that I remember when I got into a broiled with controversy with the Christian bookseller several years ago when the best-selling book that year was good morning Holy Spirit by Bennion where Betty Henn was talking about his personal revelation that he received he saw God visually. He heard his voice audibly and he performed miracles and I said if all of those things are true, then I would say anything that he taught should be a portion of the next copy of the New Testament the course, nobody wanted to do that. Certainly Betty Henn didn't want to include his messages as being part of the New Testament as above, why not if he has all of the signs of authentication on apostolic authority if he is an agent of Revelation, then we should receive his teaching. As such, but that's the point that if it's valid to argue that the Bible is authenticated by miracles as agents of Revelation than obviously the sign gifts die with the death of the last apostle.
Otherwise, the argument would be sound because again people say the birth of a baby is a miracle.
Martin Luther said that the birth of babies America. I don't believe that. I think the birth of baby is a marvelous thing and it couldn't happen without the supernatural power of God and all miracles I believe are supernatural acts but not all supernatural actor miracles in the narrow sense I believe in God answers prayers for healing and that sort of thing. And in that sense there supernatural acts of God's special providence, but that doesn't mean that they qualify as a miracle in that very narrow sense that I was explaining it. I guess that I hate that question because I know people get mad about another going get it, but you asked, I answered it, here we go over hoping you can help my wife and I make you know the right kind of church.
What kind of biblical need to be in place that could be godly thank you to be the right thing to do.
Thanks so much. That's really it's a question I get that question all the time from people, people who are frustrated with what's happening or not happening in their local churches when they're getting bad doctrine from the full planets in northern denominations that are endorsing abortion on demand then and that kind of thing. Other types of things that have been considered egregious forms of immorality through the history of the church and people say what window I leave a place like this. Well, I think we distinguish among a couple of questions.
I think there's a time when you must stay. I think there's a time when you may leave and I think there's a time when you must fully and those are not always the same time says it very difficult question but let me bracket this with two considerations.
One leaving your local church should never be a small matter are part of the congregation took vows when you joined the church to support the church in one way or the other and we have this merry-go-round that thing in the United States now are people church hop from one church the other with no real significant reason for leaving one church that maybe that don't like the color of the floor or something like that.
I think that we have to be very careful about just jumping around from churches on the other hand, on the other hand, the care of your soul and that of your family selves is of eternal significance and importance, and if you're in a church where you're not being fed. The truth of Scripture where the word of God is being trampled underfoot and the sacraments abused and there is no disciplinary government and all for sin.
You need to run for your life, you need to get out of the church and get yourself and your family in a church where you can be nurtured and aided to grow into spiritual maturity and conformity to Christ. I don't think that we should leave over every discipline agreement of doctrine, but there are some doctrines that are so so important that I think that the church can become apostate.
If a church local church or denomination denies the central truth of the Christian faith. If you're in a church that denies the deity of Christ denies the resurrection of Christ denies something like that. It's not a question of the may leave.
I think you mostly you're in a church that denies the gospel of justification by faith alone. I think you must fully and don't think of yourself as being a missionary to stay in that place to try to save it. I think that the Bible gives us mandated that point to separate from once a question and answer that certainly resonates with me and my wife and I went to church more than 30 years ago because he was not faithful to God's word, but by God's wonderful providence.
We ended up in a church that was faithful. It was life-changing.
And that's where I was first exposed to the teaching of Dr. RC Sproul, I'm eternally grateful for that. You're listening to Renewing Your Mind Bible he would have been that we have highlighted that many Q&A sessions with Dr. scroll from the archives of both our radio broadcasts and licking your conferences.
These archives go back more than 20 years, and there are far more questions and answers than we've had the opportunity to broadcast this week so we taken more than 60 of the sessions and put them on a single USB drive and also includes more than two dozen of litigators crucial questions, e-books, RC also wrote a book called now that's a good question and that's on there as well and for your donation of any amount will be happy to send you this wonderful collection of resources. Our staff is not in the office today, but you can make a request to give your gift online and Renewing Your Mind.org well, it's been three years since RC went home to be with the Lord. He led this ministry so well. His purpose remains our purpose to proclaim, teach, and defend the holiness of God in all its fullness to as many people as possible and by God's grace we will continue to carry on that mission. So we would appreciate your prayers as we begin 2021. Next week we will bring you some of RC's most popular messages here about God's sovereignty.
The importance of the Reformation and the atonement. And of course the holiness of God help you make plans to be what is beginning Monday here on Renewing Your Mind