Difficult Case Witnessing

Q. How do you witness to friends whose unsaved parents have died? The thought of them suffering in hell turned them off so they won’t listen to the gospel.

A. The situation you described applies also to the surviving spouse whose husband or wife had passed away. They told me they would rather go to be with their spouse than to leave him/her to go to heaven. What would you say or do to help them?

First, I would console your friend. Witnessing is important, but so is timing. To give condolences and comfort your friend is important during his time of grief, or he won’t hear you.

Second, I would use the parable of the rich man and Lazarus:
Lk 16:27-28 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

Even though the rich man ignored Lazarus’ plight during his lifetime, after he died he was concerned about his five brothers and wanted to warn them to repent so that they won’t end up like him. The deceased parent or spouse may not be pitiless like the rich man, but if they are unsaved and in agony, they would NOT want the same thing to happen to their surviving children or spouse. They would want them to be comforted in heaven, instead of joining him in suffering.

Besides, if your friend won’t listen and reject the gospel, his own children may be influenced to follow in his footsteps. So several generations may be affected by his foolishness. The past is gone and can’t be reversed. But he can affect the future by making a wise choice himself. So between comforting his emotions and appealing to his heart and will I would try to persuade him to commit to Christ. Hope this helps.

Is Paul a Male Chauvinist? Part 2 of 2

(Continued from yesterday)

• You may be reading too much into 1 Tim 2:14. All it said was Adam was not deceived but Eve was. It said nothing about Paul’s attitude towards women, that he was a woman-hater as some feminists claim, or at least a male chauvinist. Paul was not married (1 Co 7:8) so he never had the responsibility of a husband to protect his wife, nor did he condone men blaming women for the husbands’ mistakes. My opinion is based on:

1. As a Pharisee who knew the Law (Php 3:5), he understood fully a husband’s “covering” of authority over his wife:
Num 30:6-8 “However, if she should marry while under her vows or the rash statement of her lips by which she has bound herself, and her husband hears of it and says nothing to her on the day he hears it, then her vows shall stand and her obligations by which she has bound herself shall stand. But if on the day her husband hears of it, he forbids her, then he shall annul her vow which she is under and the rash statement of her lips by which she has bound herself; and the LORD will forgive her. (Also Num 6:10-12)
If Adam were there all the time, since he said nothing and did not forbid Eve, he gave his tacit approval by his silence and eating the fruit himself; he cannot avoid his responsibility. I understand the Law came later, but the principle is the same.

2. Paul was the one who penned:
Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,
• Eph 5:28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;
• Eph 5:33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

As such, it is highly unlikely that he would condone husbands blaming their wives for their own mistakes.

3. Although Eve sinned first, Paul never charged woman with greater responsibility. The primary responsibility of sin and death entering the world rest with Adam as head of his family and mankind:
Rom 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned
• Rom 5:17 For if by the transgression of the one (Adam), death reigned through the one (Adam), …

So I find faulting Paul for something he never did, or even stood against, to be an unfair accusation. Hope this helps.

Is the Bible Sexist? Part 1 of 2

Q. I disagree with 1 Tim 2:14 that “it was not Adam who was deceived. It was the woman who was deceived and became disobedient.” Adam, being older than Eve, should had been wiser than Eve. He should have told Eve not to eat the fruit, unless he wanted to know good and evil himself. Adam was beside Eve the whole time. Being a gentleman, he let Eve take the first bite. He could have refused to take the second bite. His own intention is revealed here. It must had been the delayed effect that Eve, after her first bite, did not immediately realize what she had done wrong. In verse 14, Paul was shirking the responsibility of men of loving and protecting his wife. He condoned the men to blame the women for their own mistakes.

A. We need to observe carefully what the Bible said and what it didn’t say, or we may be wrongly charging God or the human author with error, when the mistake was really in our assumption. The Fall of Man is recorded in Gen 3:1-7, which Paul commented on in 1 Tim 2:14. Note the following:

• Gen 3:1-5 give the dialogue between the serpent (the devil and Satan, Rev 12:9, 20:2) and the woman (Eve, Gen 3:20). We infer from v 6 that Adam was there, but there was no record of any exchange between the serpent and the man, nor between the woman and her husband. Adam may be there all the time as some commentators believe, or he may have just arrived as Eve ate. The Bible is silent and we aren’t sure which is the case.

Gen 3:6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. According to 1 Tim 2:14 Eve was deceived and fell into transgression. Adam was not deceived i.e. he knew what he was doing. It was a willful disobedience of God’s command.

• We don’t know when God made Adam and Eve what age He gave them. Likely He made both in their prime. Other than that all we know is that both were created on Day 6, so we really can’t say Adam was older and wiser. Both were without sin prior to the Fall, and did not know good from evil before they ate the forbidden fruit. God commanded the man not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Gen 2:17, before He made the woman in Gen 2:22. So either Adam told Eve afterwards, or God told Eve Himself, otherwise she would not have known the prohibition as indicated in Gen 3:3, although she added the “touching” part herself.

• The Bible did not tell what went through Adam’s mind as he ate the forbidden fruit, so we don’t know his intention. Was it being a gentleman and “ladies first” as you suggested? Or was it not trusting God’s words despite His warning? Any imputation of motive comes from us, not the text. We can’t be sure it must be what we assumed, as there is NO hard evidence to back up our claim. The only thing we know for sure is that Adam was NOT deceived, so it was not out of ignorance, but deliberate, and therefore more deserving of blame. So the second option above is more plausible.

(To be continued)

Chrislam

Q. In spite of your usually tolerant attitude, I assume you cannot tolerate the new cult of Chrislam, arising in Protestant churches. Many Christians think that Allah is the same as Yahweh. What is your view?

A. My tolerance goes as far as the Bible goes, hopefully no more and no less. Chrislam is an attempt to merge Christianity with Islam (syncretism), assuming they only call the same God by different names. My view is that those who try to blend the two do not know the God of the Bible at all.

Christians believe in the Triune God – Father, Son, Holy Spirit – Three Persons in One God. We believe that Jesus is God incarnate, and that salvation is available only through Him:

Jn 1:1, 14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
• Jn 10:30 I and the Father are one.
• Jn 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
• Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name (Jesus Christ) under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Islam, on the other hand, believes that Allah has no sons, that Jesus was only a prophet lower than Mohammad, and certainly not God. To Muslims calling Jesus God is blasphemy. It is not a matter of calling the same God by different names because of different culture, but fundamentally different. They are poles apart. How anyone can reconcile the two is beyond me. The two are irreconcilable and can never be. It is simply Satan blinding the minds of the unbelieving so that they can’t see (2 Co 4:4).

Type of Christ

Q. Which OT characters do you consider to be humanly speaking perfect, who exhibit the character or qualities of Christ? I thought of Joseph but he has a cup which he uses for divination.

A. What you are asking is for the “types” of Christ, which could be persons or objects. The word “type” is generally used to denote a resemblance between something present (OT times) and something future (NT times), which is called the “antitype” (Christ).
Several people walked with God and were called “pleasing to God” or “blameless” in the Bible:
Gen 5:22, 24 Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. … Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him. Heb 11:5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.
• Gen 6:8-9 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.
• Job 1:8 The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” 2:3 The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.”

But if you want longer narratives where you can study their biography for yourself, instead of only a few verses for Enoch, or recording Noah’s flaw in getting drunk and uncovering himself, consider Daniel. Some books on types (e.g. Torrey’s New Topical Textbook has a section on Types of Christ with 45 entries) do not list Daniel among them. However, when you read Daniel in detail, you will discover that the Bible did not record any sin in his life, and his courage, dependence on God, wisdom certainly reminds us of Christ’s qualities.

As to Joseph’s cup:
Gen 44:5 Is not this the one from which my lord drinks and which he indeed uses for divination? You have done wrong in doing this.
• Gen 44:15 Joseph said to them, “What is this deed that you have done? Do you not know that such a man as I can indeed practice divination?

V 5 is what Joseph taught his steward to say to his brothers when he overtake them. V 15 is what Joseph himself said to his brothers to test them. It could be that he used the cup for divination, or it could be that he said them only to trick them into thinking that he can discern what they were hiding. Joseph had this cup because his wife was Asenath the daughter of Potiphera priest of On (Gen 41:45, 50; 46:20), and he was just saying this as an excuse. In any event, this is circumstantial and not concrete evidence to prove that he practiced divination. I believe his position is stated in:

Gen 40:8 Then they said to him, “We have had a dream and there is no one to interpret it.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please.”
• Gen 41:16 Joseph then answered Pharaoh, saying, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”
• Gen 41:25 Now Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Pharaoh’s dreams are one and the same; God has told to Pharaoh what He is about to do.
• Gen 41:28 It is as I have spoken to Pharaoh: God has shown to Pharaoh what He is about to do.

Repeatedly Joseph attributed the interpretations to God, not to his divination. So I would not hold the possession of the cup against him.

Abortion

Q. In general Christians are against abortion but abortion is not in the Bible. If my own daughter got raped, I won’t hesitate to support her in getting an abortion. What do you think?

A. The word “abortion” does not occur in the Bible but the idea does. The principle is in “You shall not murder”, which is reiterated 5 times in Ex 20:13; Deut 5:17; Mt 5:21, 19:18 and Rom 13:9. The word “murder” translates:
• the Hebrew verb ratsach, which means to slay, kill, whether premeditated, accidental (manslaughter), as avenger, or intentional, to assassinate
• the Greek verb phoneuo, meaning to kill, slay, commit murder.

Contrary to what pro-choice claims, the fetus is not part of the woman’s body. It has its own DNA distinct from that of his/her mother. According to the Bible, life begins at conception, not after the baby is born:
Ps 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
• Ps 139:13-16 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.

So to kill an unborn baby for the sake of convenience is premeditated or intentional murder, and trespass the sixth commandment.

Having said that, I sympathize with anyone’s wife or daughter who was impregnated when raped. It is not her fault that the violence was forced upon her, nor the fetus’ fault who is simply a passive recipient of the violence. It is the rapist’s fault who should be punished for his crime. So why kill the innocent baby for the perpetrator’s crime?

The victim may not want to raise up an unwanted child, a reminder of the wrong done to her. But why commit a second wrong by abortion, when it can’t rectify the first wrong of rape? Hard as it is to ask, if she does not want the child, can she deliver the child and then give him/her up for adoption? There are many couples lining up to accept and love the innocent child. Can the mom do good by bearing with the pregnancy and then place her child with a loving family? This is redemption by turning a bad thing into good. I hope and pray more would consider it.

Divorce

Q. I know an abusive husband who beats his wife black and blue. I have no qualms advising her to divorce him. What do you think?

A. What I think is not important. What God thinks is. The Bible is very clear on the subject of divorce:
Mal 2:16 For I hate divorce,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong,” says the LORD of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”
• Mt 5:31-32 It was said, ‘WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE’; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Also Mt 19:7-9; Mk 10:11-12; Lk 16:18
• 1 Co 7:11-12 But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife. But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away.

God hates divorce, but allows it for the reason of unchastity, when the marriage covenant had been broken. Being married to an unbeliever spouse is not a biblical ground for divorce, nor is spousal abuse specifically allowed as an exception to the rule of “no divorce”. I sympathize with the spouse who is subject to abuse, and would advise “separation” to protect herself/himself against further abuse.

One point seldom discussed. Although God hates divorce, He Himself sent Israel and Judah away and gave them a writ of divorce because of their spiritual adultery:
Is 50:1 Thus says the LORD, “Where is the certificate of divorce By which I have sent your mother away? Or to whom of My creditors did I sell you? Behold, you were sold for your iniquities, And for your transgressions your mother was sent away.
• Jer 3:8 And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also.

Yet He waited for them and gave them opportunities to repent and return to Him. I think we can follow not only what He said but what He did.

We once met a sister who cried throughout as she told us how her husband abused her not just physically, but mentally, verbally and sexually. I don’t know the extent of his perversion, but “unchastity” translates the Greek word porneia, which is defined as illicit sexual intercourse, including:
• adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.
• sexual intercourse with close relatives (i.e. incest, Lev 18);
• sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman (Mk 10:11-12);
So depending on what he had done, he might have broken the marriage covenant already, even though he did not have a mistress.

She did not want to report him to the police for fear that he would be jailed, and that there will be repercussions. We advised her for the sake of her own and their children’s safety, she must separate themselves from him. Since he is perverted, he might go after the children when he no longer gets excitement after abusing her.

To try to get to the root of the problem, we also witnessed to her husband in the hope that he would repent. He listened to the gospel but did not receive Christ at that time. However, we were glad to learn that he had treated his wife better from that time on, and occasionally would even come to church himself. We understand your concern for your abused friend, but I would follow the Bible as best as we can without going beyond what the Lord permits.