October Questions & Answers
The following questions are taken from emails and are printed below exactly as I received them. Names and contact information has been removed. The answers are in note form (sorry for any of my grammar errors) to be studied through. You’ll have to examine each Scripture below to see the points. Please be mindful that there are often circumstances and details to every question that could potentially change the answer.
1. ”Last week I heard a message about witnessing to our community. I have decided to start now. I just don’t know how to. Where do I start?”
The English term “witnessing” appears once in the KJV (Acts 26:22). It was Paul speaking of his work in that context (Acts 26:1-32), who witnessed the resurrected Christ (Acts 9:1-18 and I Corinthians 15:1-8). He was telling of what he saw.
Jesus literally told Paul to be a witness (Acts 23:11).
A witness, as the word is used in Acts 23:11, requires that one be able to “affirm that one has seen or heard or experienced something” (Strong’s #3140). This fits what the Scriptures call a witness (Acts 22:15).
Those who had been with Jesus were witnesses (John 15:27).
One appointed to the office of an Apostle had to be a witness of the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:17-26). They received the Holy Spirit to continue to perform signs, wonders, and continue to be witnesses (Mark 16:15-20, Acts 1:8; 2:1-4; 2:32; 3:15; 4:33; 5:32, etc.).
Thus, to be a witness, you would have to see the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ and have revelation from the Spirit of the Almighty God. You have neither. Therefore, you cannot start something you cannot do.
Here is what you should do… You should realize that whoever taught you that you should be “witnessing” to your community has taught you something false. You should confront them (James 5:19-20). If unwilling to repent, which would include a whole lot of things including that person to STOP teaching because of ignorance, he or she or they should be marked (Romans 16:17-18) and you should remove yourself from being among he, she, or them (I Timothy 6:3-5). For, if you remain amongst those teaching such false doctrines, you are sinning (Ephesians 5:6-11 and II John 1:9-11).
Whoever and among whosoever this error is taught, it is HIGHLY likely you have been misled on many doctrines. The person(s) teaching this have not handled the world of God properly on this simple matter (II Timothy 2:14-18). That certainly means that person(s) does not have a grasp on how to learn, teach, etc. You and they are clearly unable to know and teach the truth. Twisting Scriptures, even through ignorance, is soul damning (II Peter 3:15-17). Let me help. You need to learn the truth and not the lies you’ve been taught.
2. “The bible says there is one spirit and then later that there are seven spirits? Is that the same spirit divided into seven parts? What? I don’t understand it?”
In some cases when the Scriptures refer to “one spirit” (Ephesians 2:18; 22 and Ephesians 4:4) that is in reference to the Holy Ghost (Acts 7:39). That does not mean there are not other spiritual beings (i.e. I John 4:1-6).
God the Father is a spirit (John 4:20-24).
Jesus is not flesh and bones (Philippians 3:20-21).
We are/have each a spirit (Philemon 1:25 and James 2:26).
Angels are spirits (Psalms 104:4 and Hebrews 1:7).
There were evil spirits (Luke 7:21 and Revelation 16:14; cf. Matthew 25:41) now bound (Jude 1:6).
Sometimes “one spirit” is a figure of speech to signify unity (Philippians 1:27).
Some Scriptures that refer to “seven spirits” are talking about evil spirits [demons] (Matthew 12:38-45, Luke 8:1-2, and Luke 11:14-26).
It is most likely that you are questioning the language used in the book of Revelation. Please remember that Revelation is a vision of John that is highly figurative and of things that have long ago come to pass (Revelation 1:1-20). Highly figurative language is not always easy to understand and is sometimes not understandable at all. It is a vision. John is describing what he saw, not necessarily teaching a point from it. Therefore, many things in this book cannot be literally understood. Thus, my answer is meant as some meat on the bone of study (so to speak) and NOT as a conclusion from which you should say is a certainty. Therefore, I submit the following for your studies, not as a definitive conclusion.
Here is what the book of Revelation says about the “seven spirits”: “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood… And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead… After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God... And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints” (Revelation 1:4-5, Revelation 3:1, Revelation 4:1-5, and Revelation 5:1-8).
Keep in mind that, though there is only one Holy Spirit [Ghost], He was given by the laying on of Apostles hands to all first century Christians that the Apostles laid hands on (Acts 8:5-24, Acts 19:1-7, and I Corinthians 12:3-11).
If you read the above you can see the figurative nature of a vision and how it is described. Jesus didn’t literally have seven eyes nor was He literally a lamb. The seven spirits were described as horns in one part of the vision and as lamps of fire in another. While there is only one Holy Spirit, there were seven congregations that needed John’s revelation delivered unto them. That one Spirit being sent in seven directions is a logical and possible deduction that does not present a contradiction or potential error. Consider Isaiah 11:1-2; cf. John 1:32-33; 3:34 and Acts10:38
Now, I have a concern and it is only a concern so please do not consider it a charge against you. Many people get lost in these more trivial questions and studies of the Scriptures. Answering this question for you gets you nowhere closer to Christ than if you did not have the answer. I do not know you. I am not saying you are studying things that are only trivial. To make sure I am really helping you, I want to ask: Do you KNOW (I John 5:13) from the Scriptures (II Timothy 3:14-17) that you are saved? Is this question something you are asking because you are studying the meat of the word (Hebrews 5:12-14) or because you are avoiding the state of your spiritual well-being? Our Lord does not intend for us to get caught up in things that don’t matter (Titus 3:9).
Have you initially obeyed the Gospel of Christ (Romans 10:8-17, John 8:31-32, Acts 3:19, Luke 14:25-33, Mark 16:15-16, Acts 8:30-38, Acts 18:8, Romans 6:1-6, II Timothy 2:19, etc.)?
Are you faithfully serving Him continually today (Colossians 1:23)?
Is your life right, perfect, holy (II Corinthians 7:1 and I Peter 1:13-16).
Are you working with and assembling at least weekly (Acts 20:7 and Hebrews 10:25) with other faithful Christians in a sound congregation [church/body/assembly] of Christ (Ephesians 5:6-11)?
3. “THE CHURCH IS FULL OF HYPOCRITES. PREACHERS PREACH THE OPPRESSION OF WOMEN AND HOMOPHOBIA. SERMONS ABOUT LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR ARE FOLLOWED ABOUT HATING SIN BUT I CAN SEE HOW YOU CAN SAY HATE THE ACTION BUT THE PERSON DOING IT IS YOUR GOOD NEIGHBOR YOU SHOULD LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY. HOW CAN I FIND GOD WITH ALL OF THIS VILLAINY GOING ON?”
Hypocrisy has long been a problem amongst the Lord’s people (Isaiah 65:1-5 and Romans 2:1-29). This is NOT acceptable. The Lord expects His church to be without such problems (Ephesians 5:27).
When the church of Christ has a hypocrite within, and that becomes known, that person is to be Scripturally exposed and withdrawn from (I Corinthians 5:1-13 and II Thessalonians 3:6; 14-15). The congregation that does not do this is in error (Revelation 2:12-17).
Therefore, if you are finding a congregation “full of hypocrites” you are right to avoid them (I Timothy 6:3-5 and II Timothy 3:1-5). Following them will cause you to be lost as well as they (Matthew 15:1-14).
I am not sure what you mean by saying “the oppression of women”. The word “oppression” means: “unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power” (Merriam-Webster's Dictionary). If this is what you are seeing, it is certainly wrong for many reasons (Galatians 3:26-29, Galatians 5:13, I Timothy 5:1-2, etc.).
Godly women are great and should not be treated unjustly (Proverbs 12:4, Proverbs 31:10-31, Romans 16:1-5, Titus 2:3-5, and I Peter 3:1-7).
If you are referring to godly women not being in positions of leadership, your problem is with God. His rules are that women are to be in proper subjection to men (I Corinthians 11:1-16 and I Timothy 2:8-15). Like most things, there are exceptions (i.e. the principle taught in Acts 5:29).
I have, just recently, been told by a non-Christian (he rejects the deity of Christ) false teacher in a group erringly calling themselves the church of Christ in Norwalk, OH that when the leadership of a congregation organizes an spiritual assembly women cannot speak (I have his teaching in writing for any desiring to see it). His name is Mark E. Larson. He started a cult in is home where he, as the only man amongst several woman, has absolute authority with no challenges since the woman cannot talk in any setting that matters. I am guessing this might be the kind of ungodliness you have seen. Am I right?
Preachers should be readily preaching the word of God (II Timothy 4:1-5) which includes exposing the sin of homosexuality [fornication of all sorts] (Romans 1:16-32, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, I Corinthians 7:1-5, Galatians 5:19-21, and Jude 1:7 [cf. Genesis 18:16-19:28]).
Love cannot be unconditional (Romans 12:9 and I Corinthians 13:4-6). God’s love has conditions (II Corinthians 13:11, I John 2:3-6, I John 5:2-3, and II John 1:9).
Hating [detesting] the sin and not the sinner is impossible. That is a good study. You cannot separate sin from the sinner (I John 3:1-10).
God does not need found (Acts 17:16-31). You need to get out of your own way and seek the truth.
Knowing God and finding His people on earth are TWO separate subject matters. You find the Lord through His word (Romans 10:8-17). You find His people through testing them with His word (Matthew 7:15-23, I John 4:1, etc.).
4. “Is the pope the antichrist?”
There are and have long been many antichrists (I John 2:18, I John 2:22, I John 4:3, and II John 1:7).
Anyone who exalts himself/herself, seeks honor and glory, etc.; they are certainly in opposition to Christ (Matthew 23:1-11). All Catholic [Baptist, Mormons, Presbyterians, “Protestant Movements”, Lutherans, Methodist, SDA, Jehovah’s Witnesses, most calling themselves“churches of Christ”, etc. too] leaders and members are antichrists for they stand in opposition to the Lord in exaltation of ungodly men and doctrines (Colossians 2:6-23).
Luke 11:23 simplifies who antichrists are.
5. “Women waiting on the Lords table in some Churches of Christ. Where do they get the authority for this practice?”
The act of “waiting on the table” is a matter of expediency. Many churches of Christ have made it an official act of some sort. However, it is merely a means by which the Lord’s Supper is distributed for the saints to partake of. Think about that before we get into your question. Properly creating a necessary; expedient means to keep the assembly orderly (I Corinthians 14:40) and creating a new doctrine by way of tradition (Mark 7:1-9) are two different matters.
Local disciples are to assemble to partake of the Lord’s Supper once on the first day of the week TOGETHER (Acts 20:7).
The bread is supposed to be unleavened (Matthew 26:17-26).
The drink is the be the fruit of the vine (Matthew 26:27-29).
We are to give thanks through prayer for the bread and fruit of the vine (Mark 14:22-25).
Multiple cups are authorized, but not specifically described (Luke 22:14-20).
The act is in remembrance of the death of Christ (I Corinthians 11:23-26).
You are to practice self-examination to assure yourself that you are faithfully eligible to partake (I Corinthians 11:27-32).
We must wait for all who are and can assemble to partake (I Corinthians 11:33).
It is not a social meal (I Corinthians 11:22; 34).
The Lord’s Supper is an act of fellowship; communion wherein we must be consistent not to have fellowship in/with error (I Corinthians 10:14-21).
In all of that, there is NO MENTION of a particular way that the church is to serve the Lord’s Supper. Passing it around, forming a line, having it served; whatsoever is lawful and expedient is what should be done. That might vary within different congregations of the Lord’s people.
Women are not to take the lead in things, period (I Timothy 2:9-15).
Churches of Christ cannot create a tradition that stems from a means to reach an expedient end wherein a whole position of authority arises that does not Scripturally exist (cf. Mark 7:1-9). Here, where I work and worship, we have three men who distribute the bread, fruit of the vine, and lead prayers. If we decided to have one or two men pray and everyone form a line and come partake of the bread and fruit of the vine that would be just as Scriptural. It is a matter of expediency, not law! There is no authority for a woman to lead a public prayer in a mixed assembly, etc.
© 2017 This material may not be used for sale or other means to have financial gain. Use this as a tool for your own studies if such is helpful! Preachers are welcome to this work, but please do not use my work so that you can be lazy and not do your own studies. – Brian A. Yeager