Bible FAQs

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    Charismatic Issues

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    How do you speak in tongues?

    First of all, do not simply seek to speak in tongues. That is not the end in itself. Rather, seek the God who gives this precious gift. Speaking in tongues is not a learned behavior per se. Rather, it is a by-product of a powerful encounter with God known as the The Baptism in the Holy Spirit. The first step is to simply ask God for this baptism. As the link describes, is accompanied by an initial sign of speaking in tongues. As you ask God for this blessing, simply open your mouth in an act of faith and speak out whatever He gives you. At first, it might only be a syllable or two, and you might even feel silly speaking it. However, as you begin to use it in your prayer life, it will develop into a clear, fluent language. It is important to remember that, although the Holy Spirit gives the utterance, you are the one who does the speaking.

    I have been seeking the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, but I am having trouble getting my prayer language. What can I do?

    This topic is dealt with in questing IV in our message Tongues FAQ 2: Are Tongues for All?. If you need further help, contact a solid Full Gospel church in your area. For more info, click here.

    I visited a Charismatic church, but I was very uncomfortable with the lively, emotional praise and worship. Can you explain this?

    If your pimary spiritual goal is to be "Comfortable," you will never get very far in the Christian life. An unavoidable aspect of the Christian life is that God will call you out of your comfort zone. When it comes to worshipping God, it is important to remember that it is not about us, it is about Him. Some say "I worship God in my own way." However, God will only accept worship when it is done His way. Consider Jesus' stinging words to the religious establishment of His day: "... in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9).

    The Bible gives us very explicit instructions on how we are to praise and worship God. Biblical praise to God involves our whole being, including our emotions. In fact, that is the very definition of the word "praise." Consider the following Hebrew words for praise in the Bible:

    Praise is, by its very nature, designed to be a joyful, expressive experience. Biblical expressions of praise include lifting of hands (Psalm 63:4; 134:2; 1 Timothy 2:8), clapping and shouting (Psalm 47:1) and dancing (Psalm 149:3; 150:4). Of course, there are times when quieter, more reflective form of worship are appropriate as well. God works in atmospheres, and this is important to remember when learning about the movings of the Holy Spirit.

    Do you espouse Word of Faith ("Name it and claim it") theology?

    What our critics derisively call "Name it and claim it," we call having simple faith in the integrity in God's Word. The branch of theology known as "Word of Faith" is not nearly as monolithic as it is commonly portrayed. Do we endorse everything that takes place under the Word of Faith banner? Absolutely not! There are abuses and excesses in all religious movements. However, excesses do not negate the truth that a group may bring to the table, and Faith Theology has brought much vital truth to the Body of Christ. For example, God's will on issues such as Healing and Prosperity are both plainly revealed in Scripture, and the church as a whole needs to be reminded of this. Some claim that prosperity teaching promotes greed, but when properly understood, this is not true at all (see Prosperity 2: Checks and Balances). Others argue that Faith theology teaches that we never face difficulties in life. We certainly do not teach that, nor does any responsible Faith teacher (see our article on Overcoming Life's Trials). Still others argue that the late E.W. Kenyon, a prominent pioneer of the Faith message, was influenced by metaphysical mind-science cults. However, this claim is also totally false ( click Here for a rebuttal from Kenyon's own publishing company). We do recognize the need for doctrinal purity, and we applaud ministries which remind us of this, provided it is done in a responsible manner. That being said, we do feel that much of the criticism levied against Faith theology has been unfair and misguided. For a list of articles which explain this in more detail, click Here

    How do you respond to anti-Word of Faith ministers such as Hank Hannegraaf?

    As previously mentioned, we recognize the vital need to maintain sound doctrine. We also realize that this sometimes involves confronting unsound doctrine. However, we are wary of ministries who place excessive emphasis on criticizing other ministries. To their credit, Mr. Hannegraaf and the Christian Research Institute (founded by the late Walter Martin) have done some outstanding work in the field of apologetic and counter-cult ministry. It is not our intention to belittle or demean this work in any way. Nonetheless, we feel that CRI’s slanderous attacks on legitimate, Bible believing ministries has done much harm to the Body of Christ as a whole. Many of Mr. Hannegraaf’s hysterical attacks on Faith Theology are both unfair and innacurate, and have been quite thoroughly refuted in a number of areas (see the essay 55 Fatal Flaws: An Analysis of "Christianity in Crisis". For a more detailed response, see Michael Bruno’s excellent book, Christianity in Power). Hannegraaf’s caustic demeanor and questionable tactics have often put him at odds even with people who otherwise share his viewpoint. In fact, some of his most outspoken critics have been members of Walter Martin’s own family (for more on this, click Here).

    Confronting faulty teaching in the church is a legitimate endeavor, but it must be done with the utmost integrity, humility and desire for reconciliation. Otherwise, those who hunt for heretics (a word which, interestingly enough, means "one sick with argument") will ultimately be shown to be heretics themselves.

    What about the outlandish statements made by some Word of Faith teachers?

    If you read the sermons and writings of early Pentecostal leaders such as Smith Wigglesworth or Donald Gee, you will note a deep sense of awe and reverance when they describe the moving of the Holy Spirit. I am concerned that some modern Charismatics have, in some cases, become overly familiar with the Holy Spirit’s presence and consequentially have lost some of this reverance. This has led to a tendancy to “shoot from the hip” while preaching and make statements without thinking them through.

    Although some criticism of the Faith movement is justified, care must be taken not to overstate the case. Perhaps more than any other theological controversy in recent history, the Word of Faith debate has become more about personalities than about issues. Whenever the issue comes up, what should be a rational discussion of ideas invariable becomes a flurry of finger pointing and name calling: "Kenneth Copeland said this..." or "Benny Hinn said that..." Upon further investigation, many of these quotes have proven to have been taken out of context, but even if they were not, the truth of the Faith message does not stand or fall based on the actions of a few. Contrary to popular belief, Mark 11:23-24 was not written by Kenneth Copeland! It was Jesus Himself who told us to "Speak to the mountain." As I see it, this would make Him the original "Faith teacher!" Similarly, 3 John 2 ("...I wish among all things that you would prosper and be in health...") was in the Bible long before the modern Faith movement ever came on the scene. These concepts do not cease to be true just because some modern teachers might say flaky things. At its core, faith theology is not some kooky, cultic teaching. It is simply common-sense, Biblical Christianity. After all, what is the alternative? Doubt theology?

    Does your "rhema6" username mean that you are associated with Kenneth Hagin?

    No. With all due respect to the late Bro. Hagin's ongoing ministry, we are not affiliated with his organization in any way. The word "Rhema" is Greek for the revealed, spoken Word of God, and we use it in that context. It was also James' chat handle at one time.

    What about "Oneness Pentecostalism?" Should I be baptized in the Name of "Jesus Only?"

    Over 800 Scripture passages refer to a Divine Trinity (see our articles Expositional Thoughts on the Trinity, Part 1 and Part 2). Even if they may be fellow Pentecostals, any group who who denies this doctrine is on shaky ground theologically.

    Regarding baptism, the term "In the name of..." simply means "On the authority of..." All Gospel work is to be done on the authority of Jesus Christ, and that would certainly include baptism (Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48). This is not at all in contradiction with Matthew 28:19, which teaches that all three members of the Godhead are to be acknowledged in baptism.

    In other words, if we obey Matthew 28:19, we are automatically obeying the Acts verses. However, if we follow the Oneness interpretation of the Acts passages, we are blatantly disobeying Matthew 28:19. To avoid confusion in this area, many churches (including our own) have adopted a formula along the lines of "In the Name of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." We see this as a good way to present the message in a kind, yet uncompromising manner.

    Do you advocate handling snakes or drinking poison?

    As the Charismatic movement becomes more widespread through the Body of Christ, one would hope that these negative stereotypes would be forgotten. Nonetheless, they do still rear their ugly heads at times. For the record, these sort of practices stem from a gross misinterpretation of Mark 16:18, which states that belevers "... shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them..." Commenting on these verses, Pentecostal Bible scholar Finis Dake points out:

    "The whole idea is immunity from snake bites (as in Acts 28:1-5) and power over them in conflict (as in Luke 10:19; Psalm 91:13). Handling snakes in public is no more proof that one has faith or that he is a Christian than the snake charmers of India or Burma, who are better at this than Christians, and who do not even believe in Christ." (taken from the Dake's Annotated Referance Bible).

    Those who practice these things are tiny fringe groups, and are certainly NOT endorsed by any mainline Pentecostal church or denomination. We can never forget the solemn command of Jesus "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord." (Matthew 4:7).

    What is being "Slain in the Spirit?"

    "Slain in the Spirit" is a modern term for being overcome by the presence of God in such an intense manner that a person falls to the ground. Although it is generally associated with the Charismatic movement, being slain in the Spirit is by no means an exclusively Charismatic phenomenon. For example, Catholic contemplative prayer literature contains references to "swoon states." In addition, many great preachers of the past, such as John Wesley, Charles Finney, and George Whitefield all testified to people falling under the Spirit's power in their meetings, often in large numbers! From what I've read, some of their services make modern Pentecostal meetings look pretty tame!

    Many Christians have reservations about this phenomenon, and that is certainly understandable as it has sometimes been used in an exploitive and manipulative manner. However, we must keep in mind that just because something is unusual, doesn't necessarliy mean that it is not of God.Throughout the Bible, whenever the Holy Spirit's presence shows up in a tangible manner, unusual physical manifestations are not uncommon. These include shaking (Genesis 42:48; Exodus 16:16 Psalms 2:11; Isaiah 66:5; Matthew 28:4; Acts 7:32; Hebrews 12:21) exuberant joy and drunken-like behavior (1 Samuel 1:12-17; Acts 2:13-15), and spontaneous outbursts of praise to God (Luke 1:46-55, 5:25, 17:15; Acts 3:8-10).

    In the Old Testament, it is interesting to note that the Word "Glory" in the Hebrew, can also be translated "heavy," or "heaviness." When God's glory manifests, it is often sensed as a heaviness (in a wonderful, holy sense.) Sometimes people are simply overcome by this heaviness, and fall to the floor as a result. One of the most graphic Biblical examples of this is found in 2 Chronicles chapter 5, which tells the beautiful story of the dedication of Solomon's Temple. When construction of the Temple was completed, King Solomon led the Israelites in an incredibly joyful worship service, climaxing with the bringing in of the Ark of God's Covenant (verse 7.) Innumerable offerings were given (verse 6 ) exuberant music filled the air (verses 12-13,) and the Glory (heaviness) of God filled the building so intensely that the priests couldn't stand to minister! (verse 14)

    The Bible contains many other examples of people who were, in one way or another, overcome by the power and glory of God, sometimes resulting in them falling down, or having some other related effect. Each of these cases was unique, and happened for different reasons, and with different results. When Jesus identified Himself to the mob that had come to arrest Him, the impact of that proclamation knocked them all to the ground (John 18:6). When Saul of Tarsus had his dramatic encounter with Jesus on Damascus road, the brilliance of the vision knocked him off of his horse (Acts 9:4). Similarly, when Jesus appeared to the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos, John "fell at His feet as one dead (Revelation 1:17)."

    Why does this happen? I don't claim to know all of the ins and outs, and I'm not sure that there is a "pat" answer that would apply to every case. Our encounters with the Holy Spirit are a very personal thing. Sure, it works on our pride a little, but maybe that's another thing God wants to work on! The late Kathryn Kuhlman sums it up well: "All I can believe is our spiritual beings are not wired for God's full power, and when we plug into that power, we just cannot survive it. We are wired for low voltage; God is high voltage through the Holy Spirit. (1)"

    Does your belief in divine healing mean that you are opposed to doctors and medicine?

    Absolutely not! In fact, many prominant healing ministers actively support Christian hospitals. Please keep in mind that God used a physician named Luke to write two books of the New Testament (the Gospel of Luke, and the Book of Acts). He was probably one of the first medical missionaries. God created certain plants and minerals with medicinal properties, and He often uses them in the healing process. For example, when God miraculously healed King Hezekiah of a terminal illness (2 Kings 20:1-11), a poultice of figs was used (v.7). Similarly, Paul instructed his friend Timothy to use a little medicinal wine to treat a stomach ailment (2 Timothy 5:23, see note 2 below). Proverbs 18:9 in the Amplified Bible gives us sound advice: "...he who does not use his endeavors to heal himself is brother to him who commits suicide."

    What are your views on eternal security? Do you believe in “Once saved, always saved?”

    I realize this may seem like a contradiction, but I can listen to sermons by ministers on both sides of this issue, and agree totally with every premise they make in support of their respective positions. We can certainly rejoice in the fact that our position in Christ is very secure. The Christian life is God's grace, from beginning to end. He has sealed us with His Spirit (Ephesians 1:13), His angels are constantly watching over us (Hebrews 1:14) and Jesus Himself forever makes intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). God has provided everything we will ever need to keep us firmly in His hand.

    Yet in spite of all of these wonderful benefits, God does still give us choices in life. No matter how precious a gift may be, we must choose to receive it, and we can choose to throw it away. As responsible Bible students, we cannot simply ignore the fact that the Bible does contain many solemn warnings about the danger of falling away (see Luke 8:13, 12:46; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2; Galatians 1:6, 5:4; 1 Timothy 4:1, 5:12; 2 Timothy 2:12; 2 Peter 2:21-22). We should have a healthy fear of falling that keeps us from flirting with sin, just like a healthy fear of lightening keeps us from playing in thunderstorms. Falling away is a process. A person does not go to sleep saved, then wake up lost. As Hebrews 3:12 tells us: "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." The point is that if a Christian continually lives in a sinful lifestyle, their heart will become hardened and they will eventually begin to drift away from God. Of course, if a person genuinely loves God, then they will desire to obey and please Him. Nonetheless, if it were not possible for “brethren” to depart from the Living God, then this verse is meaningless. Although it is God's power that keeps us secure (1 Peter 1:5), that does not give us licence to be presumptuous of His grace. To do so can have disastrous consequences.

    Should I only use the King James version of the Bible?

    Every Bible student's library should begin with the King James Version. For nearly 500 years, this venerable translation has stood the test of time. It has a dignity about it that the newer translations simply do not posess. Plus, practically all Bible study tools (concordances, lexicons, etc.) are designed for use with the KJV.

    However, this does not mean we are "King James Only" advocates. The arguments used to support this position are often based on revisionist history and sensationalistic conspiracy theories. When properly understood, Bible versions such as the New American Standard, New International, Amplified and New Living translations can greatly enhance your personal Bible study. They do tend to be more readable than the KJV, and sometimes (but not always)offer more accurate translations of the original texts.

    For those wishing to study this topic further, see James White's excellent book The King James Only Controversy.

    What are your views on innerracial dating and marriage?

    Racism in any form is a heinous, soul destroying sin and must be condemned in the strongest terms possible (Deuteronomy 10:17; 2 Chronicles 19:7; Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Colossians 3:11; 1 John 3:15). It is important to note that there are many Biblical heroes who were of Black/African ethnicity. For example, in the Old Testament, we read of Jethro, the father in law of Moses, who was from Midian in Ethiopia (Exodus 18:1). Similarly, the prophet Zephania was from the Tribe of Cush (Zephania 1:1) which had settled in Africa. New Testament examples would include Simon of Cyrene (which is in North Africa ), who helped Jesus carry His Cross (Matthew 27:32), as well the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:27) who was led to Christ by Phillip. In addition, leaders in the early church included men such as Simeon called Niger (which means black) and Lucius, who was also from Cyrene (Acts 13:1-3).

    Regarding innerracial marriage, it is true that God forbade the Isrealites to marry those from the surrounding nations. However, this had nothing whatsoever to do with skin color. Rather, it was an issue of heart because these nations were idol worshippers. This is the same principle that would later be articulated by the Apostle Paul: "Be not unequally yolked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14)." It has been rightly said that if a Christian marries an unbeliever, he gets the devil for a father in law!

    When both parties in the relationship are committed Christians who are mutually committed to seeking God’s will and serving him together, that is a different issue altogether. For example, Ruth and Boaz were an inner-racial couple whose marriage was very much blessed of God. For God, ethnicity and skin color are not issues at all. As Galatians 3:28 reminds us: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."

    What are your views on tithing?

    The tithe was initiated by the Patriarch Abraham when he encountered a mysterious figure known as Melchezidek as he was returning from battle. In response to Melchezidek, who was a priest of the most high God, pronouncing a blessing over him, Abraham gave the priest a tithe of all his spoils from the battle (Genesis 14:18-20; Hebrews 7:1-11). For those who claim that tithing was only "under the Law," keep in mind that this occurred 430 years before the Levitical Law was established.

    Later, when the Law was given, the first tenth of all increase was declared holy and belonged to the Lord (Leviticus 27:30). A vivid illustration of this truth is seen in the prophetic Book of Malachi, which is a powerful call to a backslidden nation to return to God (3:7). When they ask God how they were to do this, God responds that by withholding the tithe, they were in fact robbing Him (v. 8)! In order to return to God, the first thing they had to do was to make things right with their tithing. By doing this, God would bless them immeasurably (v. 10).

    Moving on to the New Testament, we see that Jesus clearly did not do away with the tithe. In fact, He emphatically stated that it should continually be practiced (Matthew 23:23). We further see the New Testament tithe expounded in the Book of Hebrews. Recounting Abraham's tithe to Melchezidek, Hebrews chapter 7:8 draws an interesting parallel: "And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth." The word "here" in this verse is the Greek word hode and means "in this same spot." In other words, the spot where the author was standing as he wrote these words was the very spot where men (present tense) receive tithes. Since this was written roughly 35 years after Jesus' death and resurrection, it is obvious that the receiving of tithes had continued into the New Testament. Furthermore, note the latter part of the verse: "...but there he receiveth them (also present tense), of whom it is witnessed that he liveth." This could not refer to anyone but Jesus Himself.

    In addition, the New Testament tithe is further underscored by numerous early church fathers:

    "The Jews were constrained to a regular payment of tithes; Christians, who have liberty, assign all their possessions to the Lord, bestowing freely not the lessor portions of their property (i.e., giving no less than the tithe), since they have the hope of greater things." Irenaeus

    "Tithes are required as a matter of debt, and he who has been unwilling to give them has been guilty of robbery. Whosoever, therefore, desires to secure a reward for himself . . . let him render tithes, and out of the nine parts let him seek to give alms."-Augustine

    "If anyone shall not do this [pay tithes] he is convicted of defrauding and supplanting God."-Jerome (3)

    As our modern churches cry out to God for revival, we are reminded of a disturbing statistic: According to Christian pollster George Barna, only 8-10% of active church members are faithful to God's ordinance of tithing. Until this problem is corrected, it seems unlikely that we will see any significant revival in our midst. As Jesus reminds us, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:21)."

    Isn’t your total abstinance position on alcohol a bit legalistic?

    In all of our years of writing our online Bible studies, we have probably received more responses to my article on Alcohol and the Bible than almost any other. I realize that to some, my total abstinence stand on alcohol may seem like a somewhat "hard line" position. I am also aware that there are sincere Christians who would disagree with me. I certainly hold no ill will toward them. While both sides can offer "proof texts" for our respective views, there are certain things that I am sure we can agree on. I will specifically look at two:

    Would lightning strike me if I were to drink a beer or a glass of wine? Probably not, but that really isn't the point. To me, abstinence is geared toward three specific goals: Even if it turns out that I am wrong, and that I have interpreted these Scriptures incorrectly, what have I lost? Drinking alcohol would bring nothing positive into my life, but it could potentially bring a great deal of negative. For me, this is not legalistic at all. In fact, it is very liberating! Both my understanding of Scripture, as well as simple life experience have shown me that alcohol is something best left alone.

    Which is the true Sabbath, Saturday or Sunday?

    In the Old Testament, the seventh-day Sabbath was primarily a sign of God's covenant with Israel (see Exodus 20:8; 31:13-17; Deuteronomy 5:12-15). Prophetically speaking, it was also a type of Jesus, the coming Messiah and what He would accomplish in His redemptive work (Colossians 2:14-17, Hebrews 4:1-11). In that sense, our relationship with Him is a Sabbath rest that never ends!

    That being said, God designed the human body for a cyclical lifestyle in which we work for six days, then rest on the seventh (medical science confirms this). To this end, the Sabbath principle lives on in the New Testament in the form of the "Lord's Day" (Revelation 1:10). Although the point is not in legalistic observance of any particular day (Romans 14:5-6), key biblical passages do indicate that the early church kept the first day of the week, which we know as Sunday (Acts 20:6-12; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2). This commermorates the Resurrection of Jesus, which occured on the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1-7; Mark 16:1-9; Luke 24:1-8; John 20:1-16).

    The conspiracy theories claiming that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday by Emperor Constantine, the Pope or some other culprit are simply not historically accurate. The ten volume Ante-Nicene Fathers collection contains the writing of church fathers leading up to the time of Constantine. Several of them, including such luminaries as Justin Martyr, Tertullian and Ignatius of Antioch (who was actually alive at the time of the Apostles) all verify that the early Christians did assemble for worship on the first day of the week.

    Is gambling a sin?

    This has been a major debate in our home state of Tennessee, as a state lottery referendum came up as an issue in a recent election. Although Dave and I both voted against the measure, it passed nonetheless, and we have not seen a reason to "crusade" against it any further.

    The Bible does not contain a clear-cut "Thou shalt not" in regards to gambling, and although I personally do not play the lottery, I do not condemn people who may feel differently than I do on the issue. At the same time, Scripture does give us some important principle to keep in mind. For example, we are to be good stewards of the resources God entrusts to us (Matthew 25:14-30), and we are to avoid "get rich quick" schemes (Proverbs 13:11; 23:5; Ecclesiastes 5:10). An intemperate desire to become rich (which is, of course, a primary reason why people gamble) can have disastrous results in a Christian's life (1 Timothy 6:9).

    Jesus said that wisdom is justified by her children (Matthew 11:19). In other words, we can judge the nature of a thing by the results it produces. Look at cities such as Las Vegas, Atlantic City or anywhere that gambling is a prominant part of the culture. Is it a coincidence that these cities are bastions of crime, greed and immorality? It is also noteworthy that these cities have a suicide rate that is much higher than the national average. When we see the negative impact gambling has had on society, it is easy to see that it is something we are better off not indulging in.

    Is it wrong to celebrate Christmas?

    The Bible teaches that the observance of religious holidays is largely a matter of individual conscience (Romans 14:5-6). For that reason, I really do not take issue with Christians who do not feel that they should celebrate festivals such as Christmas. It is true that the Bible does not contain a specific commandment to observe Christ's birthday, that Jesus was probably not born in the winter, that December 25 is actually a co-opted pagan holiday and that Christmas celebrations are often used as an excuse for drunkenness, materialism and countless other sinful activities. In fact, the Puritans of New England went to what might be called an extreme of imposing legal penalty for the celebration of the holiday in the Colony.

    These are certainly legitimate concerns, but at the same time, why should we allow what the world does to dictate how we are going to honor Jesus in our own lives? What the pagans and the drunkards may happen to do on these days is irrelevant. The Bible teaches that memorials are very important to God. Events such as Passover, baptism and communion were instituted by God Himself to remind us of His work in our lives. For this reason, I do not believe that there is anything wrong with setting aside seasons such as Christmas and Easter in order to reflect on important events in Jesus' life. Admittedly, some churches place more emphasis on this than others. For example, Catholics and some liturgical Protestants observe the Feast of the Ascension, which commemorates Jesus' majestic return to Heaven. Memorials such as these can profoundly enrich a Christian's devotional life, but they should not become a legalism to us. As the above quoted Romans passage reminds us, "Let every person be persuaded in their own mind."

    For more information, see our article Bethlehem's Treasure: A Christmas Meditation.

    Are Christians required to follow the Old Testament dietary laws?

    In Acts 10:9-16, the Apostle Peter saw a vision of a blanket coming down from Heaven covered with animals that had been declared unclean under Jewish Law (Leviticus 11:44-47; Deuteronomy 14:2-3). To his surprise, God instructed Peter to freely kill and eat of these animals (v.13)! When Peter objected that nothing unclean had ever entered his mouth (v. 14), God reassured him that "What God has cleansed, do not call common (v. 15)." Although the context of this passage deals primarily with the Gentiles coming into God's Kingdom, it does clearly show us that God no longer classifies meats as "clean" and "unclean." All of God's creatures are good, and may be freely eaten as long as they are received with thanksgiving and prayer (1 Corinthians 8:1-13).

    That being said, it is possible for something to be lawful, yet still not be what is best for us (1 Corinthians 6:12). Although it is no longer a sin to eat foods such as pork and shellfish, the physiology of these meats has not changed since Old Testament days. When consumed in excess, they still have potential to lead to a wide variety of health problems. If you do choose to eat them, be sure to use common sense and moderation.

    Is it wrong for Christians to wear nice clothes or jewelry? What about pants and makeup for women?

    It is true that the Bible tells us to dress modestly and that our true beauty comes from within, not from outward ornamentation (1 Timothy 2:9). But these verses are not saying that nice clothes, jewelry etc. are sinful in themselves. Keep in mind that Jesus wore a seamless robe, which was a very costly garment (John 19: 23-24). When Joseph went to meet with the Pharoah, he recognized that the proper ettiquette involved dressing in a respectful manner (Genesis 41:14). Furthermore, Proverbs 31:22 describes the godly, virtuous woman as wearing clothing of silk and purple.

    Those who claim that women should not wear pants base their concerns on Deuteronomy 22:5: "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God" The principle certainly applies in that a man should look like a man and a woman should look like a woman, but keep in mind that in Bible days men and women both wore robes. They were simply cut differently. In our day, pants are distinctively designed to fit either men or women, so they can easily be worn without confusing or compromising gender identity. Similarly, some discourage Christian women from wearing makeup because it was worn by the evil Queen Jezabel (2 Kings 9:30). However, reading this passage in context shows that the problem was not simply in Jezabel wearing makeup. Rather, it was because of the wicked, idolatrous life she lived. It is noteworthy that Job had a daughter named Keren-happuch. Interestingly, this name means "horn of eye paint." Would one of the greatest men of God in the Bible name his child after something he knew to be sinful? As one minister humorously put it, "A little paint never hurt any old barn."

    Is reincarnation biblical?

    No, reincarnation cannot be reconciled with the Bible or the Christian faith in any way. Rather, it is a concept which comes from ancient Hindu texts such as the Upishads. At its core is the law of karma, which teaches that we are rewarded or punished in future lives for the good or bad deeds we do in this life. Eventually the soul becomes "purified" and enters a vague state of bliss or Nirvana, which is often interpreted to mean that it simply ceases to exist.

    This is in stark contrast to the Bible's teaching. Our human identity begins when God forms us in our mothers' wombs (Isaiah 44:2; 49:1; Jeremiah 1:5). Once this life is over, then "it is appointed for men once to die, but after this the judgement" (Hebrews 9:27). Biblical Christianity centers on the once-and-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins (Hebrews 10:10-14, Romans 6:10, 1 Peter 3:18, Hebrews 7:27, 9:12, 9:26-28). Reincarnation offers a false hope to those who reject the Gospel, and for a Christian to embrace it would be saying that what Jesus did on the Cross for us is not enough.

    1-Quoted in the book Slain In the Spirit: Fact or Fiction? by Ezra Coppin.

    2-Please note that the wine here was used as a medicine, not as a casual beverage. This verse should never be used to justify the drinking of intoxicants. See our article Alcohol and the Bible.

    3-Alcorn, Randy. "The Practice of Tithing as the Minimum Standard of Christian Giving." Eternal Perspective Ministries. Publishing Date Unknown. 26 December, 2003

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