Is Isaiah 38:1-4 a Clear Example of God Lying or Changing His Mind?

Question:  How is Isaiah 38:1-5 not either God lying or God changing His mind?

Answer:  Here is the passage:

In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, “Thus says the LORD: Set your house in order, for you shall die, you shall not recover.” Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, and said, “Please, O LORD, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.  Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: “Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life.

In a sense that is like asking,  “Why pray, we can’t change God’s mind? ” The is no doubt some mystery as to how prayer works. I would argue that God does sovereignly determine the course of life’s events but knows in His plan that we will pray and plans on answering those prayers.  But what about this particular incident with Hezekiah?

We see the same pattern with Hezekiah as we do with Jonah, when God tells the people of Nineveh through Jonah that in three days they will be destroyed but he only tells them that so they can have a chance to repent.  He only sends Isaiah to tell Hezekiah he is going to die so that Hezekiah has a chance to pray for another option. And then God rewards prayer with an answer.

As with much prophecy in Scripture that is negative in scope, there is this implied opportunity to change the outcome if Hezekiah responds, just as there was an implied opportunity for the people of Nineveh to respond and change the outcome. We are not used to these kind of prophetic situations so we don’t understand the implications. If Hezekiah doesn’t respond the way he did he does die as God foretold. God’s communication is not intended as unalterable. Hence,  no lie or changing of mind.

Interestingly,  we learn that Hezekiah had to go have a poultice applied to his wounds in order to be healed.  A supernatural healing through natural means.

Should I leave Catholicism?

Question: I am very concerned as I am a catholic and was wondering if our Lord meant that my church is Babylon and to leave the church, because of all the scandal that it has been going through lately. do you think I have reason to be concerned?pope-francis-2-300

Answer: There have been Protestant interpreters who have identified Babylon with the Catholic Church in the past and probably some who still do, but I find this interpretation very questionable. It is designated as a city, and though it is said to sit on seven hills in some translations (as Rome does), if the word here means mountains instead that would not apply to Rome. If mountains is intended it would be symbolic rather than strictly geographical, mountains representing places of power and authority. Babylon would be in control of seven kingdoms in this interpretation.

I think the best reason to leave the Catholic Church would not be for the scandals of late. Every human organization will have fallen human beings doing bad things that need to be dealt with. That is why Jesus taught a way of dealing with sin in the church in Matthew 18:15-20. The reason you should leave it is if it is in disagreement with the clear teaching of Scripture. Protestants have had problems in this arena with the fact that the Catholic Church, in our opinion, has obscured the gospel and the way of salvation, making it seem too much like it depends on our works to get us to heaven rather than the finished sacrifice of Christ. Martin Luther’s concern was that the Bible teaches justification (being declared righteous before God) by faith alone.

Protestants have also disagreed with vesting authority in one man in the church, and even with the councils of the church, as they can be fallible and it would seem to have indeed failed to preserve the teaching of Scripture. We see Scripture as our final authority, though we value the tradition of the church as a help to correct interpretation of Scripture.

Do you know that you have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ? Are you being taught in your faith to grow in grace and becoming more Christlike in your life? Is the church helping or hindering this process? Can you learn from both sides of the aisle? Do you really give allegiance to the Pope? These are the kinds of questions I believe are most important to answer in this consideration.

Isn’t worship of God just paying off the bully so He won’t bother me?

Question:  The fact that sin has to exist, otherwise no one would worship a god for saving us from it, and also if nothing bullyinghappens unless it is God’s will, then it must have been God’s will for Eve to eat the fruit and introduce sin.
 No sin, no need for a savior, no savior, no worshiping a God for saving.  Besides, if God made the rule that death was the punishment for sin, then sent himself/his son to be sacrificed so we are saved from that, then why are people worshiping this God? When all it is saving us from is delivering the punishment he intended to all along.   It’s like worshiping someone for not beating you up, its like God is cutting you so he can sell you a bandaid and then be praised once your cut has healed isnt it?
It doesn’t make any sense at all.

Answer:  You are assuming, first of all, that there is no reason to worship God other than salvation from sin.  This is like saying I cannot appreciate Yosemite’s glorious peaks unless I know something of the trash heap.  He is eminently worthy of praise because of His greatness.  But since He won’t force anyone to worship Him, yet loves us and knows we need to worship Him for our own good, He provides motivation and warning to stay in the right place.  Yet when we fail to heed the warning and make the most stupid choice possible anyway, He does not abandon us but provides a way to rescue us that is fair.  Your second assumption is that we don’t deserve to be “cut” or experience death for our disobedience.  If that wasn’t the fair and necessary consequence for our rebellion against the One who made us, then it was stupid for God to enter our world as one of us and pay that penalty Himself.  But if it is the only way to fairly deal with sin then He has done us the most magnificent service anyone could ever do for someone else.

What Does It Mean to Be “Called”

Question:  What does it mean to be called?ordination

Answer:  It usually means to be selected by God to do some form of full-time ministry.  The bigger question is how that happens?  Undoubtedly God has put it on the hearts of some individuals that they are to pursue full time pastoring or missions, etc.  But this should always and will always be accompanied by gifts God gives to these individuals that are recognized by faithful members of the Body of Christ.  An example of this is Acts 13:1-3 where Paul and Barnabas are said to be called by God and through prophetic utterance the church is told to set them apart for missions ministry.  But they have already been demonstrating gifting and faithful service for years.  Can someone resist this calling or forfeit it by misconduct?  I think so.  Paul said he labored to maintain faithful ministry lest he be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:27).

In one sense every Christian is called.  We are all subject to obey the great commission Jesus gave us before he ascended to heaven (Matthew 28:19,20).  We may also say we have a career calling.  But the call to carry out the great commission is the highest priority.  Nevertheless, God often wants us to use our career calling to help establish our witness and enhance our ability to carry out the great commission.  Some are called to make doing the great commission their entire focus, usually with the idea of helping the rest of the Body become more equipped to do their part in making disciples of all nations (Ephesians 4:11,12).

Can I Build a Railway in Heaven?

Kunshan_South_Railway_Station_Platform_1Question:  Can I build a railway station in heaven?

Answer:  You know that heaven will come to earth in the end (Revelation 20,21).  Will there be a need for railways?  Will you be able, if so, to build one that doesn’t pollute?  Will we need a railway to our solar system or to other solar systems?  Will you cease to be creative…NO.  That is how God made us and we reflect Him in our creativity.  Will we want/need to work…YES, because God is a worker.  It’s in our nature.  Will our resurrection bodies be able to travel instantly where ever we want without use of a railway?  Perhaps.  Jesus was able to do that in his resurrection body (Luke 24).

For Further Reading:

Will There Be Winter in the Eternal Kingdom?

In Heaven Will We Recognize and Be With Those We Love?

Are My Husband and Father in Heaven Yet?

Do I Really Need to Go to Church?

A Different Church Building

A Different Church Building (Photo credit: justshootingmemories)

Question: I am a “new” Christian and I have a question that concerns me.  I do not have a church home and to be perfectly honest, I have not found one that makes me comfortable.  There seems to be too much politics involved, so to speak.  I pray, I believe that Jesus died for me, I study my Bible and I listen to various services on TV and have received much knowledge by doing so.  My life is dedicated to serving my Lord but I do not want to displease Him.  Is it necessary to have a church home?

Answer:  Yes, I believe it is necessary to have a church home.  I know that there are unpleasant interactions in any body of people gathered for a common purpose.  Politics, the practice or study of the art and science of forming, directing, and administrating states and other political units, is an inevitable part of any collective body.  But the politics of the church should be about implementing the will of our Leader, Jesus Christ.  His apostles, who were his authoritative spokesmen for the faith, planted churces wherever they went.  That is, they called together the believers for the purpose of meeting in unity around the authoritative gospel message and to worship together their Savior.  They appointed leaders to help govern the church.  But of course, from the very beginning there were leaders who did not lead well and plenty of opportunities for church members to get upset with each other.

It is in this kind of situation, however, that we learn that we are just as capable of the very errors we hate and in which we must learn to love and be loved.  Like marriage, which is also a very imperfect reperesentation of the ideal love we want to experience, the institution becomes a laboratory for learning love.  If we submit to the Lord and ask him to help us be shaped by love and be shapers of others by our love, he will certainly work that in us.  We need the accountability of others in our lives and to be those who offer accountability.

This is why it says:

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV).

For further reading:

Can Satan Make Me Do Something I Don’t Want to Do?

Gustave Doré, Depiction of Satan, the antagoni...

Gustave Doré, Depiction of Satan, the antagonist of John Milton’s Paradise Lost c. 1866 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Question: Can the devil tempt a born again christian into doing something they do not want to do?

Answer:  Temptation is, by definition, an enticement to do something wrong.  So yes, the devil not only can entice us to do wrong, but in fact is looking for every opportunity to do just that.  Will he entice us to do something we don’t want to do?  Yes, if it serves to get us to disobey God.  Of course, there are some things we don’t want to that he doesn’t want us to do either.  We may not want to serve God in the face of difficulty or danger, and Satan would be perfectly fine with us not serving God in such circumstances or any circumstances.

Perhaps your question is really can the devil make us do something wrong even when we don’t want to.  And the answer to that question is no.  He cannot make us do anything.  He can lie to us, seek to persuade us to do wrong things, and even create pressure for us to do wrong.  But we must choose to either believe his lies, follow his persuasion, or yield to his pressure.  Even if there were not devil, we are capable of choosing to do evil.  Our desire to be our own god is the same one Satan is following and so we are in one sense quite on the same wavelength with each other.

There are some people who have so fully yielded to Satan that they seem to lose control of their lives (see the case of the man in Mark 5:1-20), and children who somehow come under Satan’s influence might also be subject to his control (Matthew 17:14-20).    This is what is sometimes called “possession.”  The demon seems to have ability and freedom to operate through the body of the host he infects.  But even here there is a person there who can will for these demons to depart and who can be delivered.

Paul describes (Ephesians 2:1-4) three influences to evil in our lives:  Satan (the prince of the power of the air), the world (our coporate desire to be our own gods expressed in encouragement to one another to follow this instinct), and the flesh (our own inner yearning to be god and trust ourselves rather than Him).  On the day when Jesus establishes his millennial kingdom on earth (Revelation 20), he will greatly minimize the world’s influence (all people starting out will be believers) and he will banish Satan for a thousand years, and yet, at the end of that period, when Satan is released, there will be people ready to follow him in a military campaign against Jesus.

That is how crazy sinful we are.

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