QUESTION: "In one of the classes, we spoke about the difference between the BAPTISM INTO THE BODY OF CHRIST, and THE BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT. Can they happen at the same time, being one in the same experience at the time of Salvation, or must they be separate?"
ANSWER: Whilst it is possible for both experiences to take place simultaneously,
this is normally not the case. (Acts 10:44-48, 11:11- 18)
If we think of the disciples, awaiting the Day of Pentecost: can we for a moment, believe they were not saved? Were they not transformed individuals, having accepted the Risen Lord? Yet they had to WAIT for the promise of the Father. (Luke 24:49) In Acts 2 their waiting was gloriously rewarded!
The Apostle Paul himself, was, as we know gloriously converted on the Damascus Road, in Acts 9, and in verse 9, we find that it was three days before Ananias came to pray with him. It was ONLY THEN, that he was Baptized in the Spirit.
In Acts 19, Paul came across 'certain disciples', and his first question to them was, "Have ye received the Holy Ghost SINCE ye believed?" They hadn't even heard of the existence of the Holy Ghost, because they were disciples of John the Baptist. They then openly confessed Jesus as their Saviour by being baptized in His Name, AFTER WHICH, in verse 6, Paul laid his hands upon them, and it was ONLY THEN that their Baptism in the Spirit took place!
The witness of many Christians today, bears out the truth of a second experience of God's power in their lives - a further experience, different and distinct from conversion!
Commissioner Samuel Logan Brengle, was one of the most important of the early day Salvation Army teachers about the work of the Holy Spirit. In one of his books, ('When the Holy Ghost is Come' page 11) he speaks of the time we are saved, and then goes on, "But, great and gracious as is this work, it is not the fiery pentecostal baptism with the Spirit which is promised..... This (Salvation) is only the initial work of the Spirit. It is perfect of it's kind, but it is preparatory to another and fuller work." God wants to perform that 'fuller work' in each and every one of our lives, and the only thing that can stop Him is US!
The Apostle Paul, says to every one of us in Ephesians 5:18, "BE NOT DRUNK WITH WINE ...... BUT BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT!"
QUESTION: We know that Jesus is going to return - but what will happen after that?
ANSWER: The return of Jesus, is known by Christians as the 'RAPTURE'. There are those today, who would try and almost give dates and times for His return - and this would seem rather ridiculous, bearing in mind the Bible says He will come as 'A THIEF IN THE NIGHT!" (2 Peter 3: 10, 1 Thessalonians 5:2, Revelation 16:15, Matthew 24:36, Luke 12:40)
However, there are many general signs the Bible tells us to look out
for, to show us that "THE COMING OF THE LORD DRAWETH NIGH." (James 5:8)
One of the famous chapters for this is Matthew 24. Verse five hits us with tremendous force, when we remember, in recent days, the terrible tragedy that befell the followers of the cult figure David Koresh at Waco, in Texas. THE MAN ACTUALLY CLAIMED TO BE CHRIST!! AND LOOK AT THE PEOPLE WHO BELIEVED AND FOLLOWED HIM EVEN TO THEIR DEATHS!
It appears, that down through the years, well over 1000 leaders, some of them with tremendous followings, have ACTUALLY CLAIMED TO BE CHRIST!
In verse 32 we read of the FIG TREE, and this is, it is generally felt, speaking about the nation of Israel, which figures so prominently in world events today. But prior to 1948, Israel was not a nation in their own land, and were scattered throughout the world! But they are once again a nation - the fig tree has burst into bud! Note that Jesus says in verse 34, "THIS GENERATION SHALL NOT PASS 'TILL ALL THESE THINGS BE FULFILLED." This certainly appears to suggest Jesus returning within our life-span!
The return of Jesus is foretold, something like 1,518 times in the Bible! And yet some people still don't believe it!
In 1 Thessalonians 4, we are told exactly what we are waiting for as Christians. Jesus will return - and we shall be caught up to meet the Lord, there, IN THE SKY! Note at that time, Jesus is not actually coming to STAND upon the earth. The dead in Christ shall be raised, and given transformed resurrection bodies similar to that of Jesus Himself, and those of us who are still alive at that time, will also be transformed in that moment! (Luke 20:36, John 5:28, 1 Corinthians 15:53, Philippians 3:21, 1 John 3:2, Revelation 20:5-6)
Can you imagine the chaos which would ensue, if all the influence of good and godliness were removed from this world? A world devoid of people moved and motivated by the Spirit of God! The thought is horrific! The Devil would have full sway, and evil would reign supremely! If you can visualize it - that is the picture of the 'TRIBULATION PERIOD' when quite literally all hell will be let loose! (Matthew 24:21, Revelation 7:14)
It is only AFTER that time, that Jesus will return to the earth, with
His saints, for the 1000 year millennium reign - when all evil will be
destroyed. The first time, (the Rapture) Jesus will come 'as a thief in
the night' - secretly! And multitudes of people shall suddenly disappear!
(Matthew 24:41, Luke 17:34, 1 Thessalonians 4:17) But when He comes to
judge the world,(Acts 17:31) and for the Millennium Reign, He will come
in GREAT GLORY, bringing with Him, the HOSTS OF HEAVEN! Satan will be bound
during this time, and we shall reign with Christ! (Matthew 25:31, 2 Timothy
4:1, Colossians 3:4, Revelation 1:7, 20:2,4)
Revelation 20 tells us in verse 10 of the ultimate destruction of the devil, and in verses 11 onwards, of the Great White Throne of Judgement where all people who didn't know Christ as Saviour, will be brought out of their graves, to stand before Him, when the comprehensive records of Heaven will be opened, and they will be called to answer for the whole catalogue of their lifetime's sins! Perhaps the conclusion could be put no better than in our doctrines, when it says, "The eternal happiness of the righteous: and the endless punishment of the wicked."
QUESTION: "If a converted person commits suicide, does it mean they go to a lost eternity?"
ANSWER: There are those churches, which believe it to be a sin which
will damn the soul. There is no Scriptural evidence for this, although
we are warned about doing harm to our bodies, because as Christians, our
bodies are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17,
6:19, 2 Corinthians 6:16) But this could just as well apply to smoking,
drinking, over-eating, and many other things, which we know are bad for
us, and could arguably be a kind of suicide!
If we accept (as we do) the sanctity of all human life, (spoken of much today, in reference to abortion and the unborn child), Then we must accept that same sanctity in regard to our own lives. They are given us of God - do we have the right to take them away? "Thou shalt not kill," could perhaps be applied to our own lives as well as those of others!
In Old Testament days, if perhaps a battle had been lost, then it was not thought unusual for the leader of the defeated forces to commit suicide, by perhaps throwing themselves on their own sword. (1 Samuel 31:4-5, 1 Chronicles 10:4-5) Perhaps you will also remember, that when the Philippian Jailer in Acts 16:27, thought that all his prisoners had escaped, he was about to kill himself, when Paul stopped him!
More often than not, suicide is brought about today, through mental
illness, when the individual is not in control of their actions. Even insurance
companies, recognize that where there is a history, of e.g. depression,
then suicide is looked upon, as 'death by natural causes.'
Having said all of that, it would be hoped that a suicidal Christian, could be brought to see the answer to their problems in Christ, and that no situation is beyond His intervention - He with Whom all things are possible.(Matthew 19:26) As Phillips' translation of Ephesians 3:20 puts it, He, "by His power within us, is able to do infinitely more than we ever dare to ask or imagine." If we can communicate to people that Christ can give hope, help and happiness, even in the darkest night, then that is a better deterrent, than whether the act of suicide is going to damn the soul or not.
QUESTION: Is it really wrong as a Christian to treat Sunday as any other day, and perhaps go into the shop on the way from the meeting to get sweets, ice-cream, papers etc.?
ANSWER: At the root of the question, is the query, "Why is Sunday looked
upon by many as a special day?" There are those who quote the commandment,
"Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy....... the seventh is the Sabbath..."
At the risk of sounding heretical, let me say that if we are going to keep
a commandment given to the nation of Israel, then we have to keep it the
way the Jews do - in other words, it refers to 'THE SEVENTH DAY' which
is SATURDAY! If we say we keep the commandment, then we certainly cannot
say, God gave it for Saturday, but we decided to change it to Sunday! We
either keep the commandment God gave us as He gave it! Or we don't!
However we must balance that with the fact that God DID GIVE ONE DAY OF REST! It is often because this rest is not taken, and people are working seven days a week, that so many physical and mental breakdowns are happening today!
Something else to tip the balance, is the fact that the early Church met together on THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK. (Acts 20:7) There are a lot of pro's and con's banded about today, about the right of shops to open on Sunday. Sometimes, forgotten in the argument, is the fact that Christians are often being forced to work every Sunday, whether it is against their convictions or not, or risk losing their jobs. This means the day they want to worship God, and take in some spiritual food, is being lost to them. That is far from right, and although there are supposedly laws to protect those who do not want to work - they are useless; because if an employer wants a legitimate excuse to dispose of a worker, they will manipulate circumstances to manufacture one.
Yet another weight on the scales in it's favour, is what the unsaved expect to see of the Christian! Sometimes they are more stringent in the standards they expect to see, than the Christian is themselves - and if they do not see what they view as 'righteous living' in the Christian, it can undermine their confidence in the genuineness of the whole Christian faith! This is especially true of 'high profile Christians' such as uniformed Salvationists! We are warned by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 8:9, not to do anything which could be a stumbling block to someone else - even if we feel we're right!
QUESTION: As Christians, how should we view the transplant of human organs?
ANSWER: As we were well aware, this is something which was unheard of
in Bible days, as it was quite impossible. But now with the progression
of medical science, almost, it seems to the science fiction world of Frankenstein,
we must re-assess our Christian viewpoint.
I remember reading some years ago in a newspaper, of experiments which were being done in Russia, in the TRANSPLANT OF BRAINS! They had removed the brain of a monkey, and connected it to the blood supply of another monkey, so that although the monkey's body was dead, it's brain, and personality was still very much alive. Other experiments had been done, where whole heads of animals, were successfully removed, and transplanted on to a different kind of animal - you know, a sheep that thought it was a dog and barked - a dog that thought it was a cat.... The report concluded, that HUMAN BRAIN TRANSPLANTS WERE NOW POSSIBLE; so if, say, some great professor with a brilliant mind was involved in an accident in which his body was destroyed, he could receive a whole new body transplant! I'M NOT SURE IF SCIENCE FICTION HAS CAUGHT UP WITH REPORTED REALITY YET!
A further complication in the equation, are the recent reports that a special strain of pig has been genetically engineered so that it's heart will be suitable for transplant into humans! Let us remember that pig serum has been used for some time, in the control of certain heart ailments! Is there really much difference in eating your bacon roll, or pork chops, and having a pig's heart pumping your blood around? I pose that question, but do not seek to answer it!
So I think we have to exercise extreme caution, in giving a blanket acceptance to all that medical science is doing in this department, but temper that with the knowledge of how wonderful it is for someone's loved ones, when, with not long to live, they are given a heart/lung/kidney transplant, and with it a new lease of life.
There are also suggestions that it can help a bereaved family, to know, that an organ taken from their loved one, is giving life to someone else! I think I have got to say a word about those who leave the whole of their body to medical science.
From our experience of a widow whose husband's wish, was that his body go to science, let me say that it can have a profound effect upon someone, not to have the opportunity of saying 'goodbye' in the finality of a funeral service - to have, in her own words, her husband "carted away like a dead dog!"
It was very difficult for that woman to pick up the pieces and try to carry on. It is the 'in' thing to carry a donor card today, but thought must also be given to the loved ones who are left behind, and their ability to cope, on the top of their loss, with what they may see as the mutilation of the body of the person they love. There is pressure at present, to change the law, so that relatives no longer need to be consulted, where a donor card is carried.
From a Scriptural aspect, there are no doubt those, who would try and use a Scripture quoted earlier, from 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, where it says that as Christians, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit! But of course, that does not apply when we're dead - only when we're living. The Holy Spirit does not dwell in a dead body!
If we said transplants were wrong, would it in any way tie up with the Jehovah's Witness view in not permitting blood transfusions under any circumstances? For myself, I see a similarity, and Christians, I feel, for the most part, would never think a blood transfusion to be anything other than normal.
I hope some of the answers and comments are found helpful, and do remember,
they are my own conviction or point of view, and in making them, I am not
seeking to impose them on others.
May the Lord be with you, as you seek to walk daily on the road of discipleship.