Questions and Answers - Part 1

By Ernie and Mary Kroeger

In this paper we will try to shed some light on questions that are commonly asked.

1. In Is. 45:2-3 it says, "I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars. I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name." What are the treasures of darkness?

Treasures are often hidden in the darkness of the earth, but they are not treasures OF darkness, and we wonder how darkness can provide us with treasures. Yet in the formation of a diamond we have a beautiful example of this. In the darkness of the earth, God transforms black unsightly carbon into a radiant, flashing diamond. In life's journey, we associate darkness with difficulties, problems, dilemmas, confusion, sorrow and death - and who relishes these? Yet we all experience dark times in our lives. These can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how we face them. If we are rebellious, and continue in our rebellious ways, they will bring more sorrow. If we seek God's direction and obey Him, our dark times will become a source of blessing, for it is during these times that we experience His love, guidance and strength in a wonderfully personal way! They are times of intimacy with our Lord as He reveals Himself to us. We learn things we would never have learned, if we had not been confronted with serious obstacles. These are times of transformation. The lessons we learn, and the intimacy and love that we experience with our Lord, and the awesome ability of God that is revealed at such times, are the treasures of darkness!

2. In Gen. 22:17 God said to Abraham, "Indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore." Why did God use two very different examples to illustrate the multiplication of Abraham's descendants?

In Romans 9:4-8 Paul answers this question for us. He explains that not all of Abraham's descendants are children of the promise, and that there is a big difference between natural Israel and spiritual Israel. Not all who are descended from Abraham are the true Israel. The natural descendants of Abraham were custodians of the promises of God, but they did not understand that they too had to believe God and the promises. These are the natural descendants that have multiplied like the sand of the seashore. Since the sea symbolizes natural humanity (people who are ignorant of God), the sand by the seashore pictures the descendants who believe that promises were given to natural Israel.

However, the stars of the heavens picture the descendants of Abraham whose understanding has risen to a higher level - to a heavenly or spiritual level. They are people of faith, and include both Jew and Gentile. Believing Gentiles are included in the spiritual faith group, but excluded from the physical descendants. The promise that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars of the heavens, speaks of Abraham's spiritual children of faith, and the sand of the seashore speaks of the earthly physical unbelieving descendants.

3. In Hebrews 6:4-6 it states: "For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame." Why is it impossible for them to repent? Will they be eternally lost?

This is often referred to as the unforgivable sin, but it is not talking about that at all. Besides, how can there be an unforgivable sin when Jesus died for ALL sins? Let's look at what it says! It says that if they fall away it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify TO THEMSELVES the Son of God. They are not actually crucifying Jesus Christ, but they are crucifying Him to themselves - they are putting to death the Christ that is in them through their unbelief and their return to self-reliance. A dead Christ cannot help us; we have a risen Christ! It is possible to depart from the wisdom of Christ into our own wisdom or mentality at any stage of our spiritual growth and understanding. If we crucify Him to ourselves, we cannot come back to repentance until we quit doing that. As long as we put to death the Christ that is in us, we cannot repent of our wrongdoing, because He is the only power that will cause us to repent, or give us the ability to come back into repentance. When we stop putting to death the Christ in us, we can be renewed to repentance!

4. What did Jesus mean when He said, "For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me…For I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me."? (Matthew 25:35-36; 42-43)

Here Jesus explains what happens after people have received Christ. Some have ministered to His needs and others haven't. When did they do this to Him? To the extent that they did this to others, even to the least of them, they did it to Him. When Paul was persecuting the church, Jesus asked him, "Why are you persecuting Me?" This emphasizes Christ's union and identification with believers.

However, there is another level of truth here. The Christ in us can also become thirsty, naked and imprisoned when we try to live the Christian life by self-effort. For example, we try so hard to love the unlovely by self-effort. Instead of realizing that the love of God has already been poured into our heart by the Holy Spirit, we think we have to produce the much-needed love. When we barricade the door of our hearts with the law, we find it impossible to love those who disagree with us and with those who have hurt us. This thinking causes Christ to be imprisoned in us, and His love cannot flow out through us. When we feed on man's ideas of self-improvement and on selfish desires instead of on truth, the Christ in us becomes hungry for our love and the intimacy it produces. When we feed on legalism, we are feeding on the law instead of on Christ, and the Christ in us becomes hungry and thirsty for our fellowship; when we depend on our own works for righteousness, Christ's robes of righteousness are removed, and without His robes of righteousness we are naked. Legalism and natural thinking keep the Christ from being revealed in us.

5. In Galatians 4:19 Paul said, "My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you." Why does Christ need to be formed in us even though we are united with Him and He lives in us?

Christ is birthed in us through the incorruptible seed of the word. "For you have been born again, not of seed that is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God." (1 Peter 1:23) Our new birth takes place through the incorruptible or imperishable word of God. Just as growth takes place from the time a seed is planted until it is reproduced in the new plant, so growth in the nature of Christ takes place in us. The new seed is an exact duplication of the seed that was planted. The life in the old seed brings forth the new plant! Without this union and the favorable conditions needed for growth and development, this continuation of life cannot take place. Embracing the law after we have been born again, stops the development of the Christ in us. Spiritual nurture by feeding on the bread of life and drinking living water is needed for the development of the Christ in us. Even as different types of experiences and difficulties are needed to help us mature in our physical life, so they are also needed in our spiritual walk. When life's drama develops in the overcoming power of the Holy Spirit, Christ is formed in us. It's so exciting to know that the seed that is being formed gets to be exactly like the seed that was sown!

6. In Rev. 13:8 (KJV) we read, "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him (the beast) , whose names are not written in the book of the life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of t he world." How was Christ slain from the foundation of the world?

The word FOUNDATION is translated from the Greek KATABOLE, and it means to CAST DOWN. According to Young's Concordance it should read, "from the disruption of the world". The translators of the Concordant Literal New Testament have recognized the meaning of the word, and thus translated it "slain from the disruption of the world." More verses in the KJV where the word FOUNDATION has been substituted for DISRUPTION are: Ephesians 1:4, 1 Peter 1:20 and Matthew 13:35. When Adam and Eve sinned, the rule of God was disrupted (cast down) in their hearts, and man began to follow Satan's rule instead of God's rule. Since Christ is the rule of God in us, He was slain at the time God's rule was rejected. He is the Lamb slain from the disruption of the world, and humanity has been rejecting and crucifying Christ ever since. This mindset was apparent in the minds of the religious hierarchy, for Jesus was dead in their intentions long before He went to the cross. Since the kingdom of God is within us, the rule of Christ is within us. Disobedience casts down, or disrupts the rule of Christ in our hearts.

7. In Galatians 4:24-26 Paul writes, "This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants; one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother." How are Hagar and Sarah two covenants?

Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. Hagar's son Ishmael was the result of self-effort, for Abraham tried to help God fulfill His promise to Sarah, through Hagar, Sarah's Egyptian maid. Since the law keeps us in bondage to self-effort, Hagar represents the law covenant that God made with Israel on Mt. Sinai. Her children are those who want their works, produced by self-effort, to count for righteousness. Having to work for our righteousness brings us into the bondage of slavery. The "present" Jerusalem refers to the institutionalized religious headquarters that won't allow its children to depart from its laws and religious practices. Even Peter was influenced to quit eating with Gentile believers by those who came from Jerusalem, for eating with Gentiles was forbidden by Jewish law. The law covenant that God made with Israel was not intended to be a permanent arrangement; it had to be cast out when the new covenant in Christ Jesus came into being. Those who are in bondage to the old covenant of law, are still in bondage to the Adamic man. The Jews in present-day Jerusalem typify those who desire to produce their own righteousness!

Sarah's son Isaac was the son of promise, and he was born supernaturally; he was the son of faith. He does not belong to the present-day Jerusalem. There is another Jerusalem, a spiritual Jerusalem, the Jerusalem above, the bride and wife of Christ, and she brings forth children who are free. This is not a physical city; it represents those who are living under God's spiritual government. These are the children of promise, for they were not born of self-effort; they have a supernatural birth for they are born of the Spirit! Sarah, Abraham's true wife, birthed the son of promise, so allegorically speaking, she represents the new covenant of faith. The inhabitants of the Jerusalem above have all been born of faith and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

8. In 2 Cor. 4:3-4 it says, "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." Do we have two Gods, one god of this world, and one God of the believers? I thought God was God over everyone.

You are right - there is only one true God! In Isaiah 43:10-11 we read, "'You are My witnesses,' declares the Lord, and My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me. I, even I, am the Lord, and there is no savior besides Me.'" Everyone who rejects the one true God, rejects truth! The rejection of truth automatically brings the acceptance of the lies and deception of the evil one, and the lie becomes their truth. Believing the deception they are in, gives power to deception, and it becomes their god. 1 John 5:19 states, "We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one." This world refers to those who do not know God, and in Rev. 12:9 "the evil one" is identified as "the great dragon…the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world". The unbelieving world has formed an image out of lies and deception, and called it truth. In so doing, lies and deception have become their god.

This image had its beginning in the garden of Eden when the serpent spoke to Eve and presented the lie as truth. The lie always follows on the heels of truth. This is exemplified by Peter's contradiction to Christ's prediction of His imminent death. Peter's opposition followed Christ's words of truth. Jesus equated the lie with Satan, for He said, "Get behind Me, Satan!" Peter's words originated in Satan, for they were an adversary to Christ's words.

To the Jews Jesus said, "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44) Satan can only speak the lie after God has spoken truth. His purpose is to undermine God's word by changing and falsifying it. His objective is to channel our faith and obedience away from God and then direct it to himself. All who believe Satan's lies have made him their god. For this reason he is called the god of this world. He is the god of those who obey the flesh instead of God. Satan's so-called "godhood" rests on lies and deception, and therefore does not have foundation. This deceptive system of rule was introduced in Genesis 3 through the sin of unbelief in God's word, and belief in Satan's lies. Satan's rule is not permanent, for it is destroyed by truth!

9. In John 11:11,13-14 Jesus said, "`Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep'…Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought He was speaking of literal sleep. So then Jesus said to them plainly, `Lazarus is dead.'" Why did Jesus say that dead people were sleeping?

In the natural we see quite a difference between people who are dead and those who are asleep. The only thing they have in common is their unconsciousness of what is going on around them. A dead person has to be resurrected in order to come into life and awareness, and a sleeping person has to be awakened. We see death as a permanent state of separation, and sleep as a temporary one. However, Jesus used the word "sleep" to describe someone who had died. He did not have the same concept of death and sleep that we have. For example, in Matthew 9:24 we read that Jesus came to the house of Jairus whose daughter had died; yet Jesus said she was sleeping. The Jews laughed at Him scornfully; they figured they knew what a dead person looked like. But their opposition did not influence Jesus, for He knew what God had told Him. He was living out of the mind of God, and in obeying Him, He awakened her out of her sleep of death.

This was also true in the case of Lazarus. When Jesus told His disciples that Lazarus was sleeping, they thought it was a good thing. Then Jesus told them plainly that Lazarus had died. Sleep and death had basically the same connotation for Him because He did not see death as man sees death. To Christ, death was a temporal state of unconsciousness, and this He compared to sleep. In 1 Cor. 15:20 it says, "But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep." In this verse God is calling those who are dead as being asleep. Christ's resurrection is " the first fruits of those who are asleep." This means that though Christ was raised out of sleep, the rest of the dead remained asleep. Christ's sleep was only a very temporal death or separation from God. By coming back He testified that death and the grave could not hold Him, thereby proving that death is not a permanent state of being. Since Christ was the first fruits of those who are asleep, we become part of the first fruits when we are awakened out of our sleep of death. I believe our resurrection is an awakening from Adam's sleep by the quickening Spirit, and this raises us into Christ's life. The first fruits implies that the harvest is yet to come, and death shall be no more!

10. I have heard many conflicting talks and predictions on who the Antichrist is. Can you give me some light on this matter?

This is an interesting subject, and we need to take a close look at what the scriptures teach on this matter. Many Christians think that the word "antichrist" refers to one man who is yet to be born. They think he will be the instigator of a great persecution against Christians. Both Paul and the apostle John shed light on this subject.

Let us first of all look at the meaning of the word antichrist. The Greek "ANTICHRISTOS can mean either against Christ or instead of Christ, or perhaps, combining the two…one who, assuming the guise of Christ, opposes Christ.' "(Westcott) Christ means "anointing". So anything that is against the anointing of the Spirit, or anything that is substituted for the anointing is anti Christ. So we ask, "What is against the Spirit, and what is substituted for the anointing?"

In Galatians 5:17 we read that the flesh is against the Spirit and the Spirit is against the flesh. They are in opposition to each other. What is meant by flesh? Flesh does not refer to the physical body per se, but to the thinking or wisdom of the natural mind. Adam and Eve's natural mind opposed God's commandment, and they ate of the forbidden fruit. Their obedience to God's command, rooted in true knowledge, was displaced by believing that their own understanding was superior to God's wisdom. They believed what looked good to them. This reveals the fact that the wisdom of our natural mind is against God because it sets its own desires above God's will for us. It wants to be its own god. It opposes the rule of the Spirit; it is anti Christ!

In 1 John 2:18&22 John gives us a definition of the antichrist. "Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour…Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son…. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has (is [KJV]) come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world." (1 John 4:2-3)

The word "Christ" means anointing or Messiah; it is not a title. Those who deny that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed One, the Son of God, are against Him. They are anti Christ. There are many in this world today who agree that Jesus was a good man, but they deny the anointing. In 1 John 4:2-3 John wrote, "For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist." It says that these deceivers have gone out into the world. In other words, they have gone out from us into the world. These deceivers come from the church leadership and congregation, but they no longer belong there because they are preaching a false message.

Here John defines an antichrist as being one who denies that Jesus Christ is coming in the flesh. He does not say, "has come" but "is coming". Those who deny that Jesus Christ is coming to indwell us while we live on planet earth, are anti Christ, for they only see Him as He was - not as He is now. Jesus Christ is no longer a physical man; He is spirit. "Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer." (2 Cor. 5:16) He is spirit, and He comes to indwell us. He comes and resides in us, and we let Him express Himself through our bodies.

The antichrist is a man of lawlessness. He will not subject Himself to any authority but his own. Paul refers to this in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4. " …and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God." God does not have a temple made with hands; the scriptures tell us that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. The man of lawlessness wants residency as king and governor in us. He exalts himself, and wants us to believe he is right; he wants us to think that he is over and above God. Since the mind of the flesh always opposes the Spirit, we recognize that the man of sin is none other than our natural wisdom, and it wants to sit in our temple as God and govern us. The man of sin, our natural wisdom, loses his power when we listen to the Spirit. Every spirit that is against God's government in Christ is anti Christ. So we see that antichrist does not refer to a physical person yet to be born, but to the thinking and wisdom of the natural mind, for it is against Christ.

Questions and Answers: Part 2

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