Daily Archives: February 9, 2014

Questions about Angels and Demons: What Does the Bible Say about Transferring Spirits?

 

The idea of “transferring spirits” is that someone can transfer an evil spirit to another person by touching or being near him. Those who teach this concept tell others not to associate with friends or family members who might transfer such a spirit into them. There is no scriptural basis for the concept of transferring spirits by touching or being near another person or by any other method. Of course, we can be affected by negative attitudes or sinful behaviors in others, but to identify these as spirit beings that can be transferred to others is unbiblical.

The Bible says there are two types of spirit beings, the unfallen, holy angels and the angels that followed Satan in his rebellion. Angels that have not sinned are called ministering spirits (Hebrews 1:14), and we are told that God sends them forth to minister to those that will be heirs of salvation, that is, those that believe in Christ as Savior. Angels that joined Satan in his rebellion are reserved in darkness (Jude 1:6) and constitute the horde of spiritual beings (demons) dedicated to evil.

The Bible records only one instance of demons being transferred from one living creature to another. It happened when Jesus transferred the legion of demons from the possessed men into the herd of pigs (Matthew 8:28–34). Jesus did not repeat this miracle, nor did He ever warn His disciples (or us) about transferring spirits. There is no reason for a born-again believer in Christ to fear Satan or his fallen angels. If we resist him, he will flee from us. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). As true believers, our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. We can be confident that the Holy Spirit will not tolerate a demon in His temple.[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about False Doctrine: What Is the Messianic Secret?

 

The Messianic Secret is a theme of biblical criticism developed in 1901 by a German Lutheran theologian named Wilhelm Wrede. The Messianic Secret involves Wrede’s explanation for Jesus wanting to hide His identity from His enemies by commanding the disciples to keep silent about His mission on earth and the miracles He performed. Wrede claimed that Jesus did not ever think He was the Messiah and that Mark (and the rest of the New Testament authors) sensationalized Jesus and made Him into the Messiah. Wrede claims Mark added the Messianic Secret in an attempt to give a reason for why Jesus was not accepted by many as Messiah until after His death. Wrede’s Messianic Theory enjoyed some popularity during the 1920s but quickly faded soon thereafter.

Is there any biblical basis for Wrede’s theory? It is undeniable that Jesus told His disciples on several occasions to keep what He had done secret. Each of those incidents, however, has a much more plausible explanation than the one put forth by Wilhelm Wrede. Further, each is consistent with the other Gospel accounts, and not an invention by Mark.

In Mark 1:43–45 Christ commanded the leper He had healed: “After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’ But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.” Jesus knew the publicity about the healing would hinder His ability to minister in the area, which is exactly what happened when the leper disobeyed, and worse, the sensationalism caused by miraculous healings would hamper the spreading of His message. Because of the leper’s disobedience, Jesus could no longer enter a city without being mobbed by those seeking healing, causing Him to abandon His ministry in the city and keep to relatively uninhabited areas. The healing of the leper is also found in Matthew 8:1–4 and Luke 5:12–16, with Luke reiterating the reason for the command for secrecy in vv. 15–16.

Further “evidence” for Wrede’s theory of secrecy involves the explanation for Jesus speaking in parables in Mark 4:11 where He tells His disciples that the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God had been given to them, but to others He spoke in parables so that, “though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.” This is not, however, a plea for secrecy. Rather, it is an explanation of divine revelation in the hearts of true believers, revelation that is unavailable for those who, like the Pharisees, continued to reject the truth. The ‘mysteries of the kingdom’ are revealed to those who have ‘ears to hear’ but not to those whose hearts are darkened. As the Messiah, the Son of God, Jesus would have been able to distinguish between those two groups. Again, this is not an invention of Mark as it is reiterated in Matthew 13:11–17.

Mark 8:27–30 is another example of a statement that has led to misunderstanding about the secrecy Jesus required. When Peter, speaking for the rest of the disciples, declared Jesus to be “the Christ” which means “Messiah,” Jesus “strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him.” Far from denying His identity as the Messiah, Jesus was aware that the people, and even the disciples, did not yet understand that He came to die on the cross for sin. They were awaiting appearance of the Jewish concept of the Messiah as the conqueror who would free them from Roman oppression. If the crowds began to attempt to press Him into service in such a way, His mission and message would be compromised. As further proof, He immediately began to teach His disciples about His true mission (Mark 8:31–33).

The Messianic Secret theory is just that—a theory, and one that has been disproved and universally rejected among theologians. The truth is that Jesus commanded secrecy about His identity from certain people at certain times during His ministry, but for perfectly good and logical reasons. There can be no doubt, however, that by the time His ministry came to an end, everyone knew exactly who He was and is—God in flesh who came to save His people from their sins.[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Family / Parenting: What Does the Bible Say about Parents Leaving an Inheritance for Their Children?

 

Inheritance was the gift of honor and support given by a patriarch to his sons (and sometimes daughters). It was meant for the provision and status of the family. Most of the occurrences of inheritance in the first half of the Old Testament refer to God bestowing the Promised Land on the Israelites—the Heavenly Father providing for His sons and daughters. Because the land was given by God to the individual families, the people were not allowed to dispose of their land permanently. If they needed to sell it, it was to be returned during the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:23–38). The Bible laid out specific guidelines for inheriting family property: the eldest son was to inherit a double portion (Deuteronomy 21:15–17); if there were no sons, daughters were allowed to inherit their father’s land (Numbers 27:8); in the absence of direct heirs, a favored servant or a more distant kinsman could inherit the land (Genesis 15:2; Numbers 27:9–11). At no time could the land pass to another tribe. The point of passing on the land was to ensure the extended family had a means of support and survival. Inheritance was assumed, and only Proverbs 13:22 speaks of it as a particular virtue.

The New Testament does not speak of a physical inheritance but rather a spiritual inheritance. In fact, in Luke 12:13–21, Jesus downplays the importance of an earthly inheritance, explaining that it can lead to greed and an obsession with wealth. It is far better to store up treasures in heaven. Our inheritance, like the Israelites’, is from God (Acts 20:32; Ephesians 1:11, 14, 18). And, like Abraham (Hebrews 11:8, 13), we will not receive our inheritance in this lifetime (1 Peter 1:4). What is this inheritance? Psalm 37:11 and Matthew 5:5 say it’s the whole earth. James 2:5 says it’s the kingdom of God, and Hebrews 11:16 calls it a heavenly country. First Corinthians 2:9 says it is so wonderful, that “eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” And Revelation 21 describes a new heaven and new earth where God will dwell among His people and take away tears, mourning, pain, and death.

As believers, we are not bound to the Old Testament Law. Instead, we are to follow the two greatest commandments—love God and love others (Matthew 22:34–36). The Old Testament offers practical examples as to how to fulfill the greatest commandments. In regards to inheritance, it’s the example of parents ensuring their family is cared for after their death. In modern times, this doesn’t necessarily mean land, or even material possessions. It can include imparting a good character, ensuring children have an education, or training them in a profession. But, when most people think of parents leaving an inheritance for their children, it is in regards to material possessions. The Bible definitely supports the idea of parents leaving their material possessions/wealth/property to their children. At the same time, parents should not feel obligated to save up everything for their children’s inheritance, neglecting themselves in the process. It should never be a matter of guilt or obligation. Rather, it should be an act of love, a final way of expressing your love and appreciation to children. Most important, however, is the parents’ responsibility to make sure children are aware of the inheritance they will receive if they follow Christ. Parents are to teach their children about God’s expectations (Deuteronomy 6:6–7; Ephesians 6:4) and bring their children to Christ (Mark 10:14). In this way, parents can provide for their children in the greatest way possible.[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Let Us Hold True To What We Have Attained

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (Philippians 3:12-16 ESV)

Humility is a not easy to get our minds around. The problem is that pride sometimes masquerades as humility. We naturally act humble from a motivation of pride. It is insidious…

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Assurance of Salvation Part 8: Questions to examine ourselves Part 2

The Domain for Truth

Go to Part 7

Rembrandt-philosopher

k. Test of Assurance #3: More Questions to examine ourselves

i.      Establish the need: How do I know if I’m saved?

ii.      Purpose: To examine ourselves with questions to see if we are in the faith.

iii.      Question 2d: Do you follow God’s commandments?

1. Passage:By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner…

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