Questions Answered by the Berean Call

From Berean Call, Psychology and Psychotherapy (part 1), January 6, 2018:
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Question: You emphasize that salvation is based on the fact that Christ “paid the penalty for our sins.”  Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance has no entry for “penalty,” nor did Jesus or the apostles ever mention that a penalty for our sins was paid. If I ask fellow Christians where to find this view in the Bible, either they don’t know the answer or they imply that I’m not saved. I pose that question to you.
 
Response: Nor is the word “trinity” found in either the Bible or Strong’s, yet it’s a basic teaching of Scripture. Was not the casting of Adam and Eve out of the Garden a penalty for their sin? Isn’t the death that came upon Adam and Eve and all of their descendants to this day also a penalty for sin that would continue in eternal separation from God without His pardon? In declaring, “the soul that sinneth, it shall die (Eze 18:13, 20); sin bringeth forth death (Jas 1:15); the strength of sin is the law” (1 Cor 15:56), isn’t Scripture saying that death is the penalty for sin? Does not a penalty have to be paid? Granted, the Bible nowhere uses that exact terminology about Christ paying the penalty for sin. But isn’t that what’s implied when it says, “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Is 53:5), or “Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor 15:3), or “that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb 2:9), as well as in many similar verses? If death is the penalty for sin and Christ died for all, then surely He paid the penalty in full for all of us, or we would have to pay [it] ourselves. Our salvation is a matter of God’s justice, “that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb 2:9), et al. Our salvation is a matter of God’s justice, “that he [God] might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom 3:26).
I don’t understand your objection to saying that the penalty was paid. Wasn’t the force of Christ’s triumphant cry from the cross, “It is finished [tetelestai]” (Jn 19:30), meaning “paid in full”? I am grateful that Christ paid the full penalty for my sins so that God can be just in pardoning me, the sinner! There is no other means of salvation.
 
Question: We’re told that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Pt 3:8); and that “a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” (Ps 90:4). Is there any special prophetic significance that might tell us how close we are to the Lord’s return?
 
Response: There is no prophetic significance. The phrases “with the Lord” and “in thy sight” are the keys to understanding this rather simple and straightforward declaration: God is outside of time and therefore, in relation to Him, time is meaningless. Thus Paul can say that we are already seated “together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6). God, being independent of time, sees not only what to us is past but also our present and future as having already happened. Thus His foreknowledge of what in our experience hasn’t yet occurred would have no effect upon its happening and would leave us free to make genuine choices.
Here is what John Wesley said in a sermon more than 200 years ago: “There is no such thing as either foreknowledge or afterknowledge in God. All time, or rather all eternity (for time is only that small fragment of eternity which is allotted to the children of men), being present to God at once, He does not know one thing from another, or one thing after another; but sees all things in one point of view, from everlasting to everlasting. As all time, with everything that exists therein, is preset with Him at once, so he sees at once whatever was, is, or will be to the end of time” (John Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, 1833, p. 39).
 
Question: What did Paul mean when he said that he and the other Apostles were “the last appointed unto death”? Did that mean that no one else after them would ever be martyred for their faith? If so, he was wrong.
 
Response: Paul wasn’t wrong when he wrote these words: “For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men” (1 Cor 4:9). Some argue that Paul and the other Apostles thought that the Rapture would occur in their day. Not so. Although he taught believers to expect the Rapture at any moment (Php 3:20-21; 1 Thess 1:9-10; Titus 2:13, etc.), Paul knew that he would be martyred before it occurred: “For I know…that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in…” (Acts 20:29); “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand” (2 Tm 4:6). Likewise, Peter wrote, “Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle…I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance” (2 Pt 1:14-15). The Apostles didn’t expect to be raptured but knew they must each die for their Lord.
Christ declared that His disciples in all ages would be hated by the world and would suffer the same as He had at its hands (Jn 15:18-21); Paul implied that Christians would continue to suffer martyrdom (Rom 8:35-37) and warned that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tm 3:12). We know that has been the case throughout history, and even greater numbers of believers will be killed by Antichrist (Rv 6:9-11; 13:7, 15; 20:4). Obviously Paul did not mean that the Apostles were the last who would be martyred for Christ. They were the last who were “appointed unto death;” i.e., who must die for Christ. Their lives would have been spared had they denied Christ. No one is fool enough to die for what he knows is a lie. The fact that not one of the disciples retracted anything to save his life is powerful evidence of the validity of the Gospels and the Book of Acts. It was thus essential that they die as martyrs, and they were the last upon whom that necessity was imposed.
 
Question: The Apostles’ Creed says that Jesus “descended into hell.” I’ve read your rejection of the Hagan/Copeland teaching that Jesus was tortured in hell by Satan. Did Jesus descend into hell or not? I searched the Scriptures and have no answer.
 

Response: The word sheol, “place of the dead,” is translated “hell” or sometimes as “grave.” In telling the fate of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus taught that before the Cross, there were two compartments in sheol: one for the lost, and one for the saved, called “Abraham’s bosom” (Lk 16:22). To the latter Christ went in death, as did the thief crucified with Him to whom He said, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Lk 23:43). There He proclaimed to the redeemed the good news of His death having paid for their sins. Those in sheol could hear what Jesus said (see Lk 16:23-31); and He may even have addressed a few words to them. Thus Peter writes, “He preached to the spirits in prison [sheol]; which sometime were disobedient…” (1 Pt 3:19-20). After His resurrection, Jesus took the souls and spirits of the redeemed to heaven (“he led captivity captive” [Eph 4:8]). Now the souls and spirits of the redeemed upon death go immediately to be with Christ (“absent from the body, present with the Lord” [2 Cor 5:6-8]), when He will bring them to rejoin their resurrected bodies at the Rapture (1 Thess 4:13-18).


Questions answered in From Berean Call, Psychology and Psychotherapy (part 2), Feb. 1, 2018:

Question: The Bible says, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). Then why do I so often fail to do His will and to please Him? I more often please myself by doing my own will. Why?
 
Question: You justify God for sending people to hell because He has provided salvation for them in Christ. That won’t do, for millions and probably billions will spend eternity in hell. God knew that! How could a good God create anyone whom He knew would suffer eternally?
 
Question: “Broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat” (Mt 7:13). How has God “won” if there are more souls in hell than in heaven?
Question: Is it really biblical for you or anyone else to point out others’ faults? Isn’t this judging when we are not to judge? Doesn’t the Scripture say that the servant is to be left to the correction of his master, who is Christ?

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