"Youth Questions & Answers From Pastor John"
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(Questions in Bold, Pastor John's Answer in Navy)
Dear Pastor John:
Would a young child ever be the elder of someone who is older than they, say if the child has had the holy ghost longer?
:) Just wondering
Neither earthly age nor spiritual age (i. e., how long one has had the Spirit) matters much at all concerning this issue. An "elder" in the kingdom of God is a condition, and conditions can change.
As for who is an elder, the only thing that really matters, at any given moment is, through whom is God talking right now? We are exhorted in the NT to "be subject one to another", but there are specific times when that Scripture applies. It certainly does not apply all the time; otherwise, there could never be such a thing as "elders", and no such things as "those who are over you in the Lord."
But there will be a time in every saint's life (probably many times) when that child of God will be chosen by the Lord to be used for the edification of the whole body. In those times, every member of the body is required by God to humble himself to that saint, to receive what he or she has from God for everyone there. By "everyone", I mean EVERYONE, whether pastor, teacher, prophet, apostle, or even any angels who may be standing around. At those moments when God is speaking or acting through one of His children, then every child of God is required to behave as though that saint was an elder because God IS an elder, and to submit himself to that saint as to God, or suffer God's displeasure and chastisement for not doing so.
Hey Pastor John,
I was reading the Spiritual Light book and in the first chapter you were talking about taking the Lord's name, like when a wife takes her husband's name.
You were also explaining how you take it in vain. My question is: are saints of God able to repent from that? I always thought that taking the Lord's name in vain was the same as blaspheming.
Good question, Edward.
It is unlikely that any child of God who, in the mind of God, has taken His name in vain will recover himself. At the same time, many of God's children stumble and do things or say things that could lead to taking His name in vain if they continue down that path. Those who err (as just about every one of us knows by experience) certainly can repent and turn from ungodly conduct.
Some such saints in the Bible are David, Moses, and Paul. They all did evil and then were granted repentance, and the way God loved those men afterward shows that God does not hold grudges. All we have to do is turn from what is wrong and do what is right, and we will not take God's name in vain.
Hi Pastor John,
I had a question. Does the Bible say anything about what happens to little children when they die?
I saw a billboard on the way home today, and it made me think. I had a thought about what I think I've heard you say before about the Book of Life. I believe you've said that anyone who's name is in that book will receive the Spirit before they die.
It seems like that would still be in force here, and that would be the simple answer to my question.
Hi John David.
The Bible does not specifically say how God will handle babies and small children in the Final Judgment, but Jesus does speak very highly of children in general on several occasions. He told his disciples they would have to "become as little children" or they would never see the kingdom of God (Mt. 18:1-3). And Jesus became very angry with his disciples for harshly rebuking some who brought little children to see him. He rebuked those disciples sharply and said, "Let the children come to me, for of such is the kingdom of God" (Mt. 19:13-15).
That's really all we can say about little children, if we stick only to what the Bible reveals.
I just rest in the knowledge that in the Final Judgment, however God handles that and any other situation will be perfect. I know that when we see His decision, we will all have to say, "Of course! That is perfect!"
Hey Pastor John!
Tonight I had the urge to do a "salvation" study, and in doing so, I came across some verses that I was wondering if you could clear up for me. First of all, what did Paul mean when he said he was saved in 1Cor 1:18?
A more correct wording of that verse is this: "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are being lost, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God."
And then he said he was hoping to save some in 1Cor. 9:22. Is that a different word there in the Greek, or did he simply mean saved from their way of life or certain things, or what?
He was referring to saving them from sin and its consequences, especially the Lake of Fire.
That sure would be confusing to me if I was talking to someone about salvation and they brought that up, and I don’t want to be confused. I want to know what I’m talking about.
The other verse is in 2Cor. 6:2, and I’m not sure who Paul is quoting here, but he mentions that “now is the day of salvation”. Now, that again would be confusing for people to read and think that getting the holy Ghost, or simply believing on the Lord Jesus Christ would make you saved. I know this is not the case, but what does this verse mean? Maybe it is saying that this is the day that you can have the HOPE of salvation…but it doesn’t say that, so how would I justify it?
As far as salvation is concerned, today is the only day that counts. Are you in a condition to be saved right now or are you not?
Paul is quoting God's invitation to Israel (through Isaiah) to come to Him at that particluar time for deliverance, the original emphasis being on salvation from earthly trouble and suffering. Paul uses it to emphasize the fact that God has now sent His Son, and the door of hope for salvation has now been opened to all people. Read it as saying, "Now's your chance!"
Ok, one more. In 1Peter 1:5, he mentions being kept by the power of God…unto salvation to be revealed in the last time. When he says “in the last time”, is he there referring to the “end times”, judgment day, when salvation is given? Or am I missing something?
There is no significant difference that I can see between the "end times", "judgment day" or "when salvation is given". Peter is saying that our salvation will be seen, or revealed, when Jesus comes and saves us. The really important thing to know, however, is what you didn't ask about; that is, the "kept by the power of God" part. Whatever Peter meant when he mentioned "salvation to be revealed in the last time", only those who are presently being kept from sinning by the power of God will receive it. That is the practical point made by Peter, and the most important one for us.
Thanks so much!
You are very welcome. Thank you for the good questions.
Hey Pastor John,
While working on some homework tonight at Starbucks, I overheard someone talking about the Samaritan woman in John 4. Realizing that I had forgotten the details of the story, I decided to look up it up to refresh my memory. I began by reading John 4, but when I came across verses 35-38, which seems to hold the meat of the message, I began to question what exactly Jesus was saying. I read your message, "The Manner of Beer-sheba" (Broadcaster from 1994), which mentions Jesus telling the Samaritan woman that soon there'd be no need for a physical place of worship, such as Jerusalem, but rather that "true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth." I then went back and forth to those few confusing verses. When talking about the "harvest" in verse 35, is Jesus still talking about the new, spiritual covenant becoming available for the Gentiles, making them acceptable in God's sight as the Jews were acceptable for salvation? Jesus concludes this theme of harvest in verse 38 when he finally says that he sent the disciples "to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye entered into their labours." Is the "reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour" the old covenant? Are the "other men" Gentiles, and to "enter into their labors" meaning the Jews will need a spiritual way of worship as the Gentiles will?
The "harvest" was the Jews who were being prepared by God to receive their Messiah, Jesus, and the "other men" who had labored before the disciples of Jesus labored were the OT prophets, prophetesses and other wise men and women of Israel's past. Israel was the field for the disciples of Jesus. The Gentiles would come in at a later date, through Paul mainly. Jesus was not speaking of them, at least not in the main.
Also, it seems that the Samaritan woman found favor in Jesus' sight. Could it be that this and the drawing near of the new covenant for all even for "half-breeds" is the reason Jesus stayed with the Samaritans for two days. I guess we may not know that answer for sure...hmmm?
Whenever you get a chance, let me know.
That certainly played a part in Jesus' decision to spend some time in Samaria. The Samaritans were circumcised people who acknowledged Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as their "fathers", though badly taught as to the truth of the Law of God.
From John 4:
32. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.
33. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?
34. Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
35. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
36. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.
37. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.
38. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.
39. And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.
40. So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.
Thanks for thinking about these things. It helps every one of us when any one of us has his or her mind on the things of God.
Hi Pastor John,
Is there a tract about judging/making judgements at all? I had some friends over to dinner the other night and we were talking about this topic, with my friends saying it's wrong to judge - referring to Mathew 7:1. But if you think of other passages like 2Cor 6:17, it seems judging rightly and in the Spirit is needed. I'm sure I've heard you refer to right judgement before also. I was just wondering if there was a tract about it or something I could read?
In Matthew 7:1, it says "Judge not, that ye not be judged. For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged." And this section finishes with Jesus basically saying "take the plank out of your own eye so that you can see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother's eye" (paraphrased). I read this to say "When you judge, don't be a hypocrite". But what does it mean when it says "judge not, that ye not be judged"? Everything I've been reading says basically "make righteous judgements."
What should we not judge?
There is nothing that we should not judge. Paul said, "He that is spiritual judges all things" (1Cor. 2:15). Every time we discern right from wrong, we are judging. Would your friends think that we should not do that? The Christians who say we should never judge, make judgments every day of their lives. They would be foolish not to do so. To be able to discern right from wrong is not only a holy blessing; it is a commandment! God condemned throughout salvation history those among men who were unable to tell good from evil. Judging (discerning) right from wrong is what makes life worth living.
I have taught for years that Matthew 7:12 is one of Satan's favorite Scriptures. He has used it a million times to make God's children feel guilty about judging his minsiters to be frauds and their doctrines false. And, intimidated by the fear of being condemned for "judging", they plod along, trying to be faithful Christians and submitting anew to men and doctrines they despise in their hearts (as God does) but will not say so. The condition of God's abused people is so bad that one cannot believe it without help from God. Oh, how I wish they knoew the truth and would "come out of her, my people!"
Matthew 7:1 is, as you supposed, a commandment directed against hypocrisy. Jesus gave us the full picture concerning making judgments when he commanded his disciples in John 7:24 to "judge righteous judgment." This means simply to judge according to the Spirit instead of judging according to the flesh. Jesus once said, "I judge no man". But are we to say that he was not telling the truth, then, considering that he judged men bluntly and openly for being hypocrites, children of the devil, fools and blind, covetous, etc."? He certainly made those judgments; they are recorded in the Bible. Even a foolish man should be able to see that Jesus was saying that he judged no man according to the flesh; that is, by what he could see naturally and hear naturally. He judged everything only as he was led by the Spirit of truth, and that is the only kind of judgment that any of us can safely make. May God help us to trust what the Spirit tells us, the way Jesus trusted it! The Spirit of God judges all things according to the truth God knows, not according to what appears to men to be, or what sounds to men like the truth. Oh, how I love it! The perfect judgment of God is my safety and my hope.
Jesus warned us to judge only by the Spirit so that we would be judged only by the Spirit. If we judge according to the flesh, then we, too, will be judged by that same ungodly standard. And if any of us are judged according the flesh, and not by the grace o0f God, we will die, "for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
Your friends have been badly taught. That is how the Spirit judges them. Do your part, then, to love them with the love of God and shine the light of Christ into their lives. Do not fear to judge. Fear rather the inability to judge. Those who cannot judge are those to whom God refuses His help.
Hey Pastor John,
Brittanie and I have a question about the responsibilities of a pastor. We looked through the Bible and found a few scriptures talking about it but still don't quite understand. Here are some that we read. In Jeremiah 3:15, it says that God will give His people pastors after his own heart to feed them knowledge and understanding. In Jeremiah 31:34, it says that all of God’s people will know God for themselves. That seems to point to the holy ghost. Also in Revelation, Jesus is talking to the pastors of those congregations, and a few of those pastors were not right, but yet some in their congregations were right.
We were also talking about what a shepherd does because we saw that the two words (pastor, shepherd) are translated to mean the same thing. A shepherd goes out to find any lost sheep, watches out for wolves, makes sure none stray, and leads his flock to fertile pasture.
So what does a pastor do in God's family?
John and Brittanie
Hi John and Brittanie:
The principal responsibility of a shepherd in the kingdom of God is "to feed knowledge and understanding to his people", as you found in Jeremiah 3. But that does not excuse anyone in God's family if they follow a man who teaches them to do evil because the holy Ghost teaches all of us the basics of right and wrong. All of God's children know enough to refrain from what is clearly evil. We know that is true because they had to refrain from what is clearly evil in order to receive the holy Ghost and become God's children in the first place.
Leading the flock to where the good grass is, and where the still waters are, is important for a shepherd to do. And watching out for wolves is also an important element of a pastor’s job. But I don't believe that it is correct to say that a shepherd's responsibilities include going out "to find any lost sheep".
I myself have never even given a phone call to try to win back someone who comes, hears the truth, and then decides to leave. I have, however, done an enormous amount of work to persuade the sheep who are here to be content within the pasture into which God has placed them. In fact, I have labored to persuade just about every one of these sheep here, at one point or another, to remain with me and eat this good grass (even if they did not know that was what I was doing when I did it). But if, after all that I can do for them, they choose to go away, then I let them go and move on with the flock who remains. One could say that I do my searching for wandering sheep while they are still here, before they crawl under the fence and leave. I've had to do a lot of that. All God's shepherds do.
If you will notice, there is not a single instance in the Bible of Jesus chasing after the people who forsook him, to ask them if it was something he said, or if there was anything he could change in order to make following him easier for them. He did not chase after disciples who went away, asking them if something was wrong because if they left him, he already knew what was wrong: they were.
Secondly, I don't think it is correct to say that a shepherd's responsibility is to make sure that "none go astray" because the truth is that it is certain that some will go astray. Jesus said so, and all of God's shepherds deal with that reality. Even Jesus had a Judas, and before that, whole groups of disciples sometimes forsook Jesus at once. Not all of God’s children will be faithful and be saved in the end, and that is just a fact of life that we must face.
I hope that helps make clear what a shepherd's task is. Pray for me, that I fulfill the task given to me, as I pray for you, that you will let the Spirit continue to guide you into all truth and establish you in your “most holy faith”.
Hey Pastor John,
I was wondering can you truly be forgiven of your sins without having the holy Ghost, since without the holy ghost the lord says we are none of his?
In this New Testament, the holy Ghost baptism washes sins away. So, no, a person is not forgiven before he is cleansed from sin by the holy Ghost.
For one example from the Bible, you can read Paul's story in Acts. It is told in three places in that one book, and in them,you will see that his sins were not washed away until he was baptized with the holy Ghost.
Dear Pastor John,
My name is Zachary and I am nine years old. I have two questions:
#1 Why does God not talk to me? I have been asking him to and have not heard from him yet.
#2 Is God really coming soon like some people say and are the earthquakes a sign of him coming?
As for your first question, God speaks in many ways. David said he heard God speak through the stars at night (Ps. 19). And in the book called Proverbs, we are taught that we can receive wisdom from God by watching the way little ants work (Prov. 6:6-8). Jesus told us to take time to consider nature (Mt. 6:26-30), and he said this because God talks to us through the things that He has made. The clouds teach us about His glory, and the rain and sunshine teach us about His goodness.
God also talks to us through the feelings that He gives to us. This is especially true if you have His Spirit on the inside of you. Jesus said that the Spirit will guide us into all truth, and many, many times, the Spirit does this by our feelings. When we do a good thing, the Spirit will make us feel good. And if we do something that is not good, the Spirit will make us feel bad. Those feelings are God talking to us on the inside, letting us know what is right and what is wrong.
You probably are wanting God to talk to you the way you speak to other people, in the plain English language, and God does do that. Many times, His voice is very still and gentle, and we have to be very still in our souls to hear Him. But sometimes, God speaks a little more forcefully to people. And then there are times when God chooses to speak to certain people very clearly. Those people are special to God. Never do anything to harm them.
One time, long ago, Moses' brother and sister said some bad things about him. God was very upset about that, and He scolded Moses' brother and sister. One thing God said to them, was something like this: "If somebody is a prophet, I will speak to him through dreams and symbols, but Moses is more than a prophet. I talk to him face to face!" In other words, God was telling those two people that Moses was special to Him and that Moses should be special to them, too.
Maybe one day God will choose to speak to you, Zachary. He spoke like that to a little boy named Samuel (1Sam. 3), and to another little boy named Jeremiah (Jer. 1). If He does ever speak to you like that, do exactly as He says. Leave nothing out, and add nothing to His words. They are perfect. In the meantime, listen for God's voice in your feelings, in nature, and in the testimonies of God's people. His is talking to us all the time by some means.
As for your second question, Jesus is not coming again any time soon. You will be a grown man before he comes back, and you may even be an old man. In fact, you may go to your grave before the Lord Jesus returns. So, don't be alarmed by those who say Jesus may return at any moment. They are mistaken. So, you have time to grow and learn what the will of God for you in this life is. Isn't that good news?
As for earthquakes, they will continue to increase and grow worse as time passes. But these things are just "the beginning of sorrows" for this evil world, according to Jesus (Mt. 24:7-8), and Jesus knows about these things.
Thank you, Zachary, for your questions. Be a good boy, and don't follow others in school who do bad things.
When you said that God talks to us in our feelings, I realized that God has been talking to me. I just didn't know he was. He has been telling me to do the right things not the wrong things. He has been helping me not to do wrong things like getting in trouble at home or in school, and about being kind and nice to others.
My next question is, do angels ever make mistakes?
There were some angels who, long ago, made a very bad mistake. They thought that a cherubim named Satan should be made co-ruler of the universe with God, and they probably thought they would be promoted with him. He had fooled them into thinking he was exceptionally good and wise, but in his heart, he was very, very wicked. The other angels were not fooled by Satan's beauty and clever talk, and they did not follow him. It was a terrible mistake that the angels made who trusted Satan.
It was such a bad mistake that God threw them out of heaven forever. They will never again see God and His wonderful home. It is so sad for them! But the angels who loved God and were not thrown out of heaven are really good and wise, and Jesus sends them to earth every day to help us when we need their help. They do not make mistakes because they always do what Jesus tells them to do, and Jesus NEVER makes a mistake.
If you love Jesus, Zachary, and if you treat people right, Satan will never be able to fool you. It is very important that you do what is good in God's sight. Jesus said if we did that, we would always be surrounded by God's love.
Thank you for your question. It was one that nobody has ever asked me before.