A few years ago I did a series of what most folks consider "Difficult Questions" covering biblical questions that people find hard to answer. I don't like my forums where they are currently stored, so I thought I'd send them over here to make things easier. I may continue the series here, we'll see.
The questions with their answers are as follows:
1) "Where did Cain, Enoch and Seth get their wives? Did they marry their own sisters?"
"And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch."
1) Cain could not have found his wife among his sisters because he was already away from his family when he married.
2) It says that Cain "dwelt in the land of Nod" which apparently already had people there because it was "east of Eden" and had a wife for Cain.
3) God says that we are not supposed to commit incest (although several people in the Bible did). In Leviticus 20:17, it states (KJV) "And if a man shall take his sister, his father's daughter, or his mother's daughter, and see her nakedness, and she see his nakedness; it [is] a wicked thing; and they shall be cut off in the sight of their people: he hath uncovered his sister's nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity."
4) In James 1:17, it says about God, "the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (God does not change), then He thinks the same about incest today as He did back then, and He thought the same about incest in Genesis as He does today.
Cain got his wife in the land of Nod, as it states in the Bible.
The Bible traces the lineage of Adam and Eve because Adam was the first man. It does not say Adam was the only man. The tracing of Adam and Eve's descendants establishes the lineage of Jesus and that establishes the lineage of Israel as the blessing of all the people of the earth (Gen. 26:4b). The blessing of all the nations of the earth is Jesus Christ and His dying on the cross for all of us.
2) II Peter 3:8 says: "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."
I was once asked how that can be true? How does God see time? Can you answer these questions?
"Clean off your dining room table. You can see every part of the tabletop and you can see the beginning and the end. You can see it side to side and you can see every scratch (if any) and every ding (if any). That's the way God sees time.
God sees the beginning and the end ("the Alpha and the Omega") and He sees it fully. That's how God sees time. It's all the same to him: One second to one thousand years all visible to him at all the times.
3) According to the Bible, is there such a thing as predestination, or do we have free will in all things?
Predestination is not biblical. God gave us free will. It says so multiple times in the Bible. We have free will.
If you read the second difficult question about how GOD sees time, you can relate this to that. When GOD sees time, HE also sees the possibilities of our choices. Imagine it this way,
Think of a bird's feet. Some of them have four toes (some three toes) going forward, one going backward. Imagine your life is a bunch of bird feet, the backward toe of the next foot touching one of the toes of the first foot. So, two touches foot one's third toe, foot three touches foot two at the first toe, foot four touches foot three at the fourth toe... etc.
If you start at your birth and you go forward making decisions and choosing which way to go, where to turn, what is right and wrong for your life, you have gone along one of the "toes" going forward (or sometimes backward). Maybe you are choosing to go along toe one, or toe two.
When you compare that path to the path that GOD would have had you choose, you may have travelled along HIS path maybe for a while in your life, maybe never, maybe -- from adulthood on at least -- almost always if not always.
If you colored the path GOD would have you travel red, then the path you actually travelled blue, most of us would see that our path is not always on the line with GOD's path. Some of us try to make it close, some of us don't believe in GOD, so don't worry about following HIS path.
Either way, because GOD sees the beginning of time and the end of time at all times, HE can also see the results of each of the choices each of us makes. HE knows what our choices MAY be, HE knows what the results of those choices will be, and HE knows what the results would have been IF we had followed HIS perfect will.
That's not predestination, that's free will, but GOD knows the results of whatever you do before you do it, but HE doesn't make you do it. HE lets you choose, HE lets you make your mistakes, HE lets you do what you want to do, but HE knows what your life is going to be like because of those choices. HE knows what your life COULD HAVE been like if you had followed HIS path. But HE doesn't force you.
HE allows you to make your mistakes. HE allows you to be wrong. HE allows you to decide to love HIM or not. That's how much HE loves you. HE wants you to choose HIM, but HE loves you enough to let you have your own will, your own choices. Even if you suffer the consequences of those choices.
GOD loves you enough to NOT make you do the right thing. HE loves you enough to let you CHOOSE to do the right thing.
Question #4 is inspired by Rush Limbaugh. Some of you may have noticed that Rush Limbaugh says that Revelations does not fit into the Bible and should not be part of it. Some scholars and preachers agree with that, and that's probably where Rush got the idea.
4) "Does The Book of Revelations agree with and belong in the Bible?"
Does "The Book of Revelation" belong in the Bible, despite what Rush Limbaugh says?
I don't know where Rush got info about that. I have looked online for information against "The Book of Revelation" being in the Bible and I cannot find anything that would make me think he's got good info. I can't find anything that would support that idea. I looked, but maybe I didn't go to page 1,203 of the search engine results (don't count on that number being accurate, it's made up) to find the info Rush may have found and based his belief upon. I have no idea where he got that belief.
However, my info is that "The Book of Revelation" supports the other books of the Bible, stating similar things (wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, etc., when it comes to the physical world), Jesus is the Son of GOD, alive today and sitting at the Right hand of the Father, is beloved by GOD, etc. It supports the teachings of the other books of the Bible where it concerns the "Lambs Book of Life", where it concerns the return of Christ, where it concerns judgment. All of this and more are supported by the other books of the Bible, reiterated in "The Book of Revelation", and therefore, to the best of my knowledge, "The Book of Revelation" fits and belongs in the Bible.
Why Rush would say otherwise, I just don't know.
5) How can a loving GOD send anyone to eternal punishment?
Answer: He DOESN'T.
Now, before you get your knickers in a twist, let me finish. He doesn't. People CHOOSE to be sent there.
Well, GOD set the rules up a long time ago,
"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with GOD, and the Word was GOD. The same was in the beginning with GOD. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not." (John 1:1-5)
Jesus Christ is the "Word" and he has been with his Father since before time and helped GOD create the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1-31). So the rules have been in place since before time began because GOD knew the plan, thus Jesus knew the plan. It was GOD's plan all along to offer a savior and the only one capable of being the sacrifice was Jesus Christ in human form (all the rest of us would have sinned and negated our own offering).
Remember how often he told his disciples that he would be crucified? (See Mark 8:31, Luke 9:22, Mark 14:8, et al) Christ knew he was to die for man's sins.
Now, remember that there are rules set in place. When you play a game of soccer and someone tells you the rules, you must obey those rules to win the game. There are refs who say when someone gets penalized and when someone scores. Assuming the refs are impartial, then the team who scores the most wins. Correct? Imagine if the refs scored Team A even if they didn't really score, and if the refs penalized Team B for no reason whatsoever. That would not be fair, would it?
Same holds true with going to heaven or hades. GOD set the rules in place a long time before you and I got here. We have to play by the rules in order to win the game. (Crude comparison, I know.) GOD sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for you and for me and for everyone who has ever been born. If GOD were going to change the rules midstream and say, "Well, I've changed my mind. Anyone can come in, and it doesn't matter if they know Jesus or not." Don't you think that would be unfair? Rules are rules, right? Otherwise soccer, cards, polo, sudoku would be something you would never play again because rules mean something.
Also, if GOD changed the rules midstream, it would mean negating His Son's sacrifice -- Christ's suffering on the cross would be for naught. GOD is not going to do that. All the sins of the world rested on His Son for a moment and at that moment GOD turned His eyes away from His Son for the first time ever (Jesus cried out, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" (which means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?").
Can't you imagine how much that hurt the Father of a suffering Son? GOD had to look away because He couldn't look upon all that sin. Separation for an instant, and then death. Jesus took your sins and died for them and GOD looked away and didn't help His Son in that moment of critical pain, agony, filth and separation. If GOD changed the rules and let us all into heaven because He loves us all, He would be undoing what Jesus Christ did for us and no one would be in heaven. Because without that sacrifice of a pure, sinless man there can be no eternity of forgiveness of sins.
Now, it is your choice to not accept Jesus. The Bible says, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of GOD" (Romans 3:23) and that "For GOD so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son that whosoever believeth on him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16) It's your choice to accept Jesus or reject him. Accept him and you get to go to heaven and you get to be in heaven with GOD and Jesus. Reject him -- your choice -- and you go to eternal condemnation.
GOD does not force you to do either. That's why we have free will. GOD calls you (you're reading this, aren't you?) and He wants you -- everyone -- to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, but He won't force you to do so. If GOD doesn't force you to do so, then it's your choice to choose heaven or hades. Either way, it is eternity, so choose carefully.
I'll post more in the following posting.
Now for more of my posting:
What about things like Mormon "Baptism for the Dead", will that save anyone?
No. If you read that page, it says that "those who accept the gospel in the spirit world may qualify for entrance into God's kingdom".
First, "may qualify for entrance"? May? If baptism saves, and they're doing a baptism for the dead, then that's a guarantee, is it not? What's with this "may" business? If baptism does not save, thus guaranteeing entrance, then why bother?
Second, it doesn't say WHERE those folks are who are being offered baptism after they have been dead for however many years. Are they in hades already? If so, there's no escape. Are they somewhere else: purgatory or something similar? Where, and how does anyone escape the judgment of GOD and where He sends you, for that is what would be happening there.
Third, it doesn't say if how they're offered the gospel. It just says "those who accept the gospel" and I have never heard of a Mormon going to wherever those dead folks are on a mission trip and staying there long enough to win them over to Mormonism! So how do they hear the gospel?
Fourth, it says that, "each deceased soul has the personal choice to accept or reject it." How do they know here on earth when they're doing the "Baptisms for the Dead" which dead person accepted the teachings? Walkie talkies? Channeling? Who tells them which dead person said, "Okay. Yeah. I'll take you up on that offer?" Is it the Mormon missionary who is down there, and if so, what did the missionary do that was bad enough to condemn him as those folks are and will someone stand in for him or are his Mormon credentials enough to get him back out of there? If it's a Mormon missionary, can a house divided stand against itself (see Matthew 12:25 and Mark 3:25)? If he has sinned enough to be condemned, why would he be able to preach the gospel wherever those dead folks are, and who says he'd be good enough preacher to get them out of there since he's the same place for similar sins? Christ had no sin. When he preached to the dead in Paradise he was not in hades, he was in a place between heaven and hell that is no longer available because the pathway to heaven is now complete. (Paradise was a waiting place for those in the Old Testament times who believed in God but had no way to get to heaven because the pathway was not completed yet, via Christ's crucifixion, death, resurrection and ascension.) It could not hold Christ because he was the Son of GOD and had no sin, therefore his voluntary attendance to the folks in Paradise (the waiting place) was not condemnation and he left when GOD had planned for him to leave and completed the pathway. A sinful man could not do that; only Christ could.
Fifth, if they are baptizing dead people without knowing for certain that the dead person they are baptizing in absentia actually accepted the teachings, and they baptize even one person without knowing for certain that the dead person "accepted the gospel", does that not throw doubt on every person's post-death baptism? After all, that would let a bad person into their heaven, thus negating Christ's sacrifice, negating the whole Mormon teaching of having to accept their teachings, of having to do the works they teach.
Sixth, they quote 1 Corinthians 15:29: "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?" to justify their teachings, but admit that it is a "rhetorical question". We all know that "rhetorical questions" are not to be answered. Also, given the context of the chapter, there were apparently some sects that were baptizing for the dead at the time that Paul was addressing and mocking. Paul was teaching that the resurrection happens, but not because anyone was baptized while dead, but because of that person accepting Jesus Christ while they were alive. Big difference.
Seventh, some studies also suggest about 1 Corinthians 15:29 that there was a word substitution in that verse, but if you look at the context of the verse in the chapter, it doesn't need to be a mistake to make the concept of baptizing for the dead an unacceptable, illogical doctrine. After all, would Paul mock something that was of GOD?
More in my next posting.
I've already touched on this but I must write a short response to the section Elder Petersen wrote.
1) He states, "Jesus was a Personage of both spirit and flesh, like all of us." Elder Petersen forgets "SINLESS" personage UNLIKE the rest of us.
2) "When Jesus went to the realm of the dead, he was still himself, an individual...." Yes, BUT Jesus was also the SON OF GOD, not like us. He was there to do a job, not to wait for a way out.
3) "The dead—even those who died in the flood—also were intelligent persons..." Yes, but it isn't intelligence that saves anyone. A high IQ gets you nowhere. And it wasn't just those who died in the flood of Noah's day who were there: it was everyone from the Old Testament times who believed in GOD and GOD counted it for righteousness and gave them a chance to hear Christ preach to them so that they may believe in him and go to heaven after he had completed the path. "I am the resurrection and the life, NO MAN COMETH UNTO THE FATHER BUT BY ME" (John 11:25) Christ said. It isn't via baptism after death that anyone gets there.
4) "These dead were so much in possession of their reason and their faculties that they could hear the gospel like men in the flesh although they lived in a world of spirits..." Yes, but they were listening to JESUS CHRIST, the SON OF GOD, not a mere mortal who wound up down there somehow, or not to someone alive on earth. Again: how would anyone on earth know who accepted the offer?
5) "Jesus taught them the gospel..." FINALLY! We agree on something!
6) "Having heard the gospel, they might accept it or reject it..." Yes, but JESUS was there preaching to them so he knew who accepted or rejected his offer of salvation. Any Mormons down there? Anyone with a walkie talkie? No? Then there is no way to know who said yes.
"Mormons are therefore very zealous about collecting and submitting the names of their ancestors..." They collect and submit more than the names of their ancestors. They do everyone's ancestors: including Jewish folks who don't want to be changed from their Judaism to Mormonism against their will.
What do they do about that? Do they ask the relatives of those they have on their next baptismal list if they think that their great-grandma would mind becoming a Mormon? No? They don't have the walkie talkies, so could they be acting against someone's wishes? Yes? I'm sorry, would that be considered a sin?
So their doctrine teaches them that they should do this as part of their works to get into heaven, but in doing so, they're forcing a conversion against someone else's will -- selfishness -- and that's a sin, so obeying their doctrine is a sin? Hmmm...
Caught in a Catch 22 in the Mormon religion. Condemned if you do, condemned if you don't. Can't win.
Now, who's going to heaven in Mormonism?
6) We know that Jesus died so that everyone's sins can be forgiven. Everyone who asks and accepts Him as Lord and Savior has the promise in John 3:16, "that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life" (KJV). (Yes, Mormons to Muslims, Hindus to Atheists, Catholics to Pentacostals: everyone who asks and receives goes to heaven.) We know that He is the only one who could have died for our sins because He lived a sinless life and was the Son of God: fully qualified, unlike any of us.
My question is, when did the way to heaven get completed? This one is easy when you think about it.
The path to heaven, if you recall, was started before God created the heavens and the earth (Ephesians 1:3-10 and elsewhere) because it was GOD's plan all along to do this for us. Then when Jesus and GOD were creating the earth (John 1:1-5) it was also ordained. It was prophesied in the Old Testament (Isaiah 52:13-53:12) that Jesus Christ would come to die for us. Christ's virgin birth (Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-80) and his sinless life (Hebrews 9:13-14) made Him the only one capable of dying for us because He was the only person ever born who had never sinned (Romans 3:23).
His spotless (sinless) life was a daily walk with GOD, His Father and it paved part of the pathway for us. Then His crucifixion on the cross (Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Matthew 27:1-66, Mark 15:1-47, Luke 23:1-56, John 19:1-42) to take away our sins and His three days dead preaching to those in "Paradise" (a waiting place for those in the Old Testament times who believed in the coming Messiah) (see Luke 23:43, AKA "Abraham's bosom"; also Ephesians 4:9-10, Mark 16:19-31) and His resurrection (Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-20, Luke 24:1-53, John 20:1-21:25) were part of the pathway, too.
All of those steps allowed Christ to be the Redeemer, but the pathway to heaven was not completed -- not even for those He preached to in Paradise (AKA "Abraham's bosom") -- until He ascended into heaven, untouched by hands of anyone who had sinned (John 20:17) because it was only after Christ's first ascension into heaven that the pathway was completed. After His first ascension into heaven, where He completed the pathway for us, where He was received of His Father, where He established the right for our forgiven eternal souls to be allowed into heaven via the pathway He completed (planned before the earth was formed) then He could come back down and be touched by His followers (Matthew 28:9) and go back and forth for a while until His final ascension recorded in Luke 24:49-53.
Thus the pathway is completed not just by His death, or resurrection, but because He went as a sinless man, cleansed after taking all of our sins upon Himself, to the grave and rose again, but it was the first ascension that completed the pathway for us.
IF Christ had been touched prior to his first ascension by a person who had sinned, it would have all been cancelled out. Sin cannot travel to heaven. Sin would have contaminated Christ and He would have died in vain.
That's something to think about, is it not?
In the New Testament, we see that Jesus Christ had a crowd of people who followed Him and went to where He was to see and ask Him to do miracles, to hear Him preach, to just see what all the fuss was about. He was reviled by the Sadducees and Pharisees for eating with "publicans and sinners" (Mark 2:16). A "publican" is not an early REpublican; he's a tax collector (an early Democrat). So, considering that "sinners and publicans" were good enough for Jesus, should you be friends with and "hang with" "sinners and publicans"?
If you read the Psalms of David, the Book of Proverbs and elsewhere in the Bible, you can see that it is not a wise thing to hang with liars. You should choose your friends carefully and you should be rigid in your standards as to who you regard as your friends.
Friends should be people of godly character, not drunks, neither liars nor deceivers, steadfast and strong in the LORD. This is biblical and should be a guideline for accepting someone into your life as a friend.
Acquaintances, on the other hand, you may have because if you don't you cannot witness to them. But do not hang out with people who won't be good influences over you, or whose reputation will besmirch your own. "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold." (Proverbs 22:1)
So that's the start of the "Difficult Questions" series. What thinks you? Agree? Disagree? We'll see what happens here.
Until the next Difficult Question, GOD Bless!