Category Archives: Miscellaneous

What was the Sanhedrin?

WHAT WAS THE SANHEDRIN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Our English term “Sanhedrin” is the transliteration of the Greek, “sunedrion,” which literally means “sitting together.” (A related word is “synagogue,” whose study which read, linked at the end of this article.) The King James scholars rendered it “council” in all cases. “Sanhedrin” can be used two ways. While it often refers to the large, Jerusalem tribunal, it sometimes applies to smaller or local Jewish courts.

THE GREAT SANHEDRIN OF JERUSALEM

According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, the great Sanhedrin of Jerusalem consisted of 71 members—scribes (Hebrew Bible copyists and teachers), elders (older men—see our related study linked at the end of this article), members of the high priestly families, and the high priest (who served as president). “The more important causes were brought before this tribunal, inasmuch as the Roman rulers of Judaea had left to it the power of trying such cases, and also of pronouncing sentence of death, with the limitation that a capital sentence pronounced by the Sanhedrin was not valid unless it were confirmed by the Roman procurator (cf. John 18:31; Josephus, Antiquities 20, 9, 1).” Perhaps the easiest illustration is to liken the Sanhedrin to the United States Supreme Court—albeit it was Israel’s Supreme Court.

Consider these few verses as summation: “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21). “And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31). “Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,…” (Matthew 26:3). “…[T]he chief priests and the scribes and the elders(Mark 14:43). “And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes(Mark 14:53).

Now, some more specific passages about the Sanhedrin:

  • During the Jewish phase of His trial, the Lord Jesus Christ stood before the Sanhedrin in Matthew chapter 26 (cf. verse 59), Mark chapter 14 (cf. verse 55), Mark chapter 15 (cf. verse 1), and Luke chapter 22 (cf. verse 66).
  • After healing the lame man at the Temple, the Apostles Peter and John were brought before this body in Acts chapter 4 (cf. verses 1,5-6,15,23).
  • All 12 Apostles stood before the Sanhedrin after performing miracles in Acts chapter 5 (cf. verses 17,21,24,27,34,41).
  • Stephen, filled with the Holy Ghost (like the Apostles), was brought before the Sanhedrin to stand trial in Acts chapter 6 (cf. verses 12,15).
  • The Apostle Paul stood before the Sanhedrin in the latter part of Acts (cf. 22:30; 23:10,15,20,28; 24:20).

Nicodemus (John 3:1; John 7:50) and Joseph of Arimathaea (Mark 15:43; Luke 23:50-51) were two “secret” followers of Christ who were members of the Sanhedrin. However, if you study the above passages carefully, you will realize the pervasive unbelief of this body of religious leaders. These court proceedings were corrupt, so political depravity should not surprise us today. The Sanhedrin was bitterly opposed to Jesus Christ and all His preachers. Sadducees, who denied resurrection (Matthew 22:23; Mark 12:18; Acts 23:8), formed 90% of the Sanhedrin, especially since the high priest was both a Sadducee and the leader of the Sanhedrin (cf. Acts 5:17). To be sure, Christ and His Apostles performing miracles of raising the dead, and preaching resurrection, made them most unpopular with the Sanhedrin!

THE LOCAL SANHEDRINS OR COUNCILS

Every Jewish town had a (smaller) Sanhedrin for the decision of the less important cases. These are found twice in the King James Bible:

  • Matthew 10:17: “But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;….”
  • Mark 13:9: “But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.”

Also see:
» Who were the “elders?”
» Who were the “chief priests?”
» How did synagogues originate?
» Who were the “Pharisees?”
» Who were the “Sadducees?”
» Who were the “Herodians?”

Who were the “seventy” whom Christ sent out?

WHO WERE THE “SEVENTY” WHOM CHRIST SENT OUT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

We read about these 70 special Messianic Jews only in chapter 10 of Luke. The Lord Jesus Christ commissioned them during the last six months of earthly ministry.

Read the Bible for yourself: “[1] After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. [2] Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. [3] Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. [4] Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. [5] And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. [6] And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. [7] And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. [8] And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: [9] And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

“[10] But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, [11] Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. [12] But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. [13] Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. [14] But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. [15] And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell. [16] He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.

“[17] And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. [18] And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. [19] Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. [20] Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”

While similar to the 12 Apostles, these 70 men are not to be confused with them. For example, carefully compare Matthew 10:1-42, Mark 3:14-19, Mark 6:7-13, Luke 9:1-6, and Luke 10:1-20. Both the 12 Apostles and the 70 were commissioned to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom in Israel’s cities, confirming that message with the two Kingdom miracles—that is, healing the sick and casting out devils. What makes the 70 unique, however, is Jesus sent them in pairs to cities and towns before He visited those areas. They were to prepare the people for His arrival. After their first and only appearance (Luke chapter 10), these 70 preachers drop off from the pages of Scripture. Consequently, we do not know what ultimately happened to them.

Also see:
» Who were “the sons of the prophets?”
» Was an apostle merely one who had seen Christ’s resurrection?
» Who were the people who followed Jesus before Paul?

What is a “fuller?”

WHAT IS A “FULLER?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Fuller” is found five times in a King James Bible. We can use context clues to develop a sense of its definition.

  • 2 Kings 18:17: “And the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and Rabshakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a great host against Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. And when they were come up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is in the highway of the fuller’s field.”
  • Isaiah 7:3: “Then said the LORD unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shearjashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field;….”
  • Isaiah 36:2: “And the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem unto king Hezekiah with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field.”
  • Malachi 3:2: “But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:…”
  • Mark 9:3: “And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.”

Firstly, relying on Kings and Isaiah, we ascertain a “fuller” is connected to pools and conduits (channels of water). Secondly, Malachi speaks of a “fuller” using soap. Finally, in Mark, a “fuller” is said to whiten raiment (clothes). Could it be any more apparent? A “fuller” is simply one who “fulls”—that is, bleaches or cleanses—laundry.

In Bible times, clothes were washed by beating them with a bat, or stomping on them, in a tub of water. Various alkaline substances were used as a crude “detergent.” While soap may have been employed (Malachi), natron or salt was equally helpful here (see “nitre” in Proverbs 25:20 and Jeremiah 2:22). Cimolite, a white clay, or chalk were used as “bleach” or whitening agents. As in Kings and Isaiah, fullers worked in a “field” outside the city of Jerusalem. They needed large spaces to air or dry the laundered articles. Also, since their work involved pungent and unpleasant odors, they were situated away from populated areas.

As touching the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark), and Christ’s clothing “being exceeding white as snow,” this was far beyond the work of any human or earthly launderer. It was a display of God’s purity or righteousness, a glimpse of His stunning kingdom glory to be revealed in the Earth one day. Actually, Malachi likens the Lord Jesus to fullers’ soap, returning to wash away the filthiness of sin!

Also see:
» What is “nitre?”
» What is the “potter’s field?”
» What distance is “a stone’s cast?”

What is a “charger?”

WHAT IS A “CHARGER?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

We are most familiar with the King James Bible’s term “charger” with reference to John the Baptist’s death. The word is found four times here:

  • Matthew 14:8: “And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger.”
  • Matthew 14:11: “And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.”
  • Mark 6:25: “And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist.”
  • Mark 6:28: “And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother.”

If you read the context (Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29), Herodias—the former sister-in-law and current wife of Herod Antipas—purposed to kill John the Baptist for disapproving of their incestuous marriage. Antipas intervened and merely imprisoned John. Nevertheless, Herodias devised a plan. She used her young daughter (likely a teenager) to promiscuously dance before Antipas, seduce him, and cleverly persuade him to execute John by decapitation.

Then, through her daughter, Herodias requested John’s head be brought in a “charger.” This word is derived from an old French term “chargier,” “to load.” In Greek, it is “pinax.” It was rendered “platter” in Luke 11:39: “And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.” A platter is simply a large flat dish; a charger is similar, and often used to serve meat. Yea, Herodias was quite a nasty, vengeful “woman!”

Also see:
» What is a “besom?”
» What is a “wen?”
» What is a “daysman?”

Will computers ever destroy us and dominate the world?

WILL COMPUTERS EVER DESTROY US AND DOMINATE THE WORLD?

by Shawn Brasseaux

It is a fascinating concept! With electronics becoming increasingly complicated, more powerful, and playing bigger roles in our daily lives, some people wonder about so-called “artificial intelligence” eventually getting out of control. Will computers ever gain the wherewithal to outsmart us, war against us, and wipe us from existence? Could there ever be a planet Earth run entirely by robots, with the human race extinct?

The technology we enjoy today was once science fiction. As robots become more efficient, automation thus multiplying, fewer human workers will be needed and millions of jobs will be lost. Self-driving cars are already being built and tested (albeit limited at the moment). At stores, self-checkout counters allow customers to purchase items with little to no interaction with a human cashier. Drones are already delivering packages by mail. Robots can place phone calls and actually understand human speech patterns so as to communicate with human callers. Physicians can even examine patients long-distance through computers connected via the internet. Voice-controlled machines—virtual assistants (think of the “talking” software in smartphones and smart-speakers)—are more commonplace than ever. With our spoken voice, we can command our cellphone to do an internet search, or direct a smart speaker to order products from websites. One hundred years ago, this would have been all been considered “magic.” Ten years ago, it was somewhat conceivable but not a reality. Today, well, it is existent!!

With the above scenarios now true, we begin to see problems arising. If computers can mimic human speech, if they can perform tasks that we cannot (or can execute jobs quicker than we can), then who is to say that they would not entirely replace us at some point? Would these robots ever become conscious of the fact that they would have to eliminate us in order for them to run the world? Is it possible that they would actually go through with our annihilation? For decades now, these ideas have been entertained. Could there be any merit in them?

Individuals who fear computers rebelling against us and wiping out human civilization are interested in a narrative all too familiar. Was there ever a time in human history when we decided to turn away from and ignore our origin? To put it bluntly, did not our father Adam turn on his Creator, rebelling against Him and doing what he could to eliminate Him from his mind (Genesis chapter 3)? Sure! Do not hesitate to believe it! Did not the nations forsake the one true God so that they originated the world religions at the Tower of Babel (Genesis chapter 11; Romans 1:18-32)? Yes!

If ever there were a day when computers deliberately plotted against and conquered mankind, it would be the ultimate testimony to the Bible dictum, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). However, this author does not adopt—and will, quite frankly, never espouse—the notion that computers will destroy us and become the chief rulers of the world. If he were an atheist, then, of course, he would fret immeasurably, for he would see humans as the highest form of beings. If humans were ever “de-throned,” we would have no hope in and of ourselves to overthrow our new rulers. Since he is a Bible-believing Christian, however, he knows that the Lord Jesus Christ is there (as present as ever) and He will make the final decision as to how far mankind will be allowed to destroy himself. The God of the Bible has let—and will continue to allow—mankind reap the consequences of his willfulness and sinfulness. Nevertheless, He is also full of pity, so man will never make a full end of himself. Despite what man has done to destroy God’s creation, God will fulfill His original purpose in it.

Science-fiction books and films—originating from people with great imaginations—fuel the fear and pessimism that come with “artificial intelligence.” Let us go ahead and call it paranoia. While almost anything is possible (what is reality today was inconceivable decades ago, recall), we had better start concerning ourselves with more important matters than computers mimicking human thought to the point where they overtake us in the world. Societal problems plague us, issues that computers know nothing about. Humans will have to look to something beyond themselves to solve those problems… and even computers causing the human race to go extinct are unable to purge us of the evil that lies within us and throughout the world system.

The fastest supercomputers of our day are still no match for our brain. It is illogical to ever entertain the notion that the invention will become more powerful than the inventor, that the creation will conquer the creator. It simply cannot be, whether in the natural world or the spiritual world. No effect is greater than its cause. The creature is surely never to become the Creator—except in the land of folly, in the deluded mind of the creature. Once the creature moves down that path, he will then be led to believe that someone or something will try to overtake him. Frankly, the fears associated with “supreme” artificial intelligence are simply man’s guilty conscience reminding him of his rebellion against his Creator and resulting Fall back in the Garden of Eden!

Returning to the issue of the creation (computer) rebelling against the creator (human), the most significant reality is that we have made every attempt—and are still doing so—to eliminate the LORD God from our thinking. Our Creator is often not in that discussion about uncontrollable artificial intelligence. There is always the issue of what we are going to do to protect or improve ourselves. (The same can be said of the conservationists and environmentalists trying to use rules and regulations to keep Earth perpetually going!) Almighty God is simply not in the picture. When we adopt the Bible viewpoint, we see that the Creator God has an ultimate purpose in the heavens and the earth. It involves people, not robots, but people just like ourselves. When we read about Jesus Christ returning at His glorious Second Coming—Revelation chapter 19—He is fighting sinful men who have tried to take His throne from Him and annihilate His people Israel. He is the conquering Hero; His enemies vanquished. Sinful man is far more a threat to himself than computers are to him!

Ultimately, what we need to be concerned with is not computers dominating the world and taking our lives. The far greater threat is that sin will rob us of our spiritual lives. Without faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, we will go to a Devil’s Hell forever! “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). “For God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Christ “was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:25). This is how we are saved from the eternal penalty of our sin and sins! “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:4-5). “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Friend, we had better be far more concerned with passing from spiritual death to spiritual life, than whether or not machines will replace human civilization. God would be just in letting the works of our own hands turn on us, but that simply will not happen. He Himself will take care of that. No matter how far man will go, there will be a day of reckoning. All that is wrong will be set right. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself will see to it.

Also see:
» I believed the Gospel, so why do they not believe?
» Should we Bible believers investigate and promulgate conspiracy theories?
» Are we “doom and gloom” prophecy believers?

If God is everywhere, is He suffering in Hell?

IF GOD IS EVERYWHERE, IS HE SUFFERING IN HELL? HOW CAN PEOPLE IN HELL BE SEPARATED FROM HIM IF HE IS OMNIPRESENT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

These resemble the conundrums Bible skeptics like the throw out to make Christians stumble. With the believer in Christ dazed, he grows silent, and the scoffer slyly relieves himself of a further confrontation with the truth. Yet, the scoffer will not escape the Divine wrath he himself will face in Hell if he dies in his sins! God is absolutely everywhere; to wit, He is omnipresent. So, then, what of His relationship to those in Hell?

Let us turn to Psalm 139 for the answer. We see God’s omniscience (“all-knowledgeable”): “[1] O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. [2] Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. [3] Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. [4] For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. [5] Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. [6] Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”

Then, we note His omnipresence (“all-present”): “[7] Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? [8] If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. [9] If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; [10] Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. [11] If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. [12] Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.”

Next, we see His omnipotence (“all-powerful”): “[13] For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. [14] I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. [15] My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. [16] Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. [17] How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! [18] If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.”

Finally, in verses 19-24, King David closes the chapter by responding to the foregoing affirmations: “[19] Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men. [20] For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. [21] Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? [22] I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. [23] Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: [24] And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Nothing is hidden from the Creator God’s view (verses 7-12). Even acts committed in pitch darkness are as visible to Him as deeds done in broad daylight! Strange as it sounds, His Word, the Holy Bible, “sees” all things as well. That stunning revelation is discovered in Hebrews 4:12-13: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his [the Bible’s!!] sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

God is God, so He is everywhere. Yet, since He is God He can also hide Himself from any particular being if He so chooses. He can be present but not reveal Himself to that individual: the knowledge of His presence can be removed as well. That is to say, He is able to withdraw intimate communion, remove awareness of presence, and still be literally there. A crude example that may aid our understanding here is to consider someone nearby who is daydreaming. Physically, he or she is next to us but his or her attention is elsewhere. Despite close proximity, personal interaction with the person is impossible. He or she is unavailable on a heart-to-heart, spirit-to-spirit basis. The same is true of someone sitting right next to us who refuses to pay attention to what we have to say.

In the case of sin, a man’s spirit is dead—separated from God’s Spirit (Ephesians 2:1-3). There is no fellowship because of the barrier of sin. Regeneration, or the Holy Spirit giving life to that dead human spirit, is the answer (Titus 3:4-7). The Holy Spirit uses the Gospel of Grace (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) as the means whereby He gives life to the believing sinner (see Ephesians 2:4-9). The death of Christ becomes the sinner’s death to sin’s penalty and power, the burial of Christ is the putting away of the sinner’s old identity in Adam, and the resurrection of Christ becomes the sinner’s new life (see Romans chapter 6). This is how a lost person becomes a saint, moving from Adam to Christ—positionally and practically!

Until trusting the Gospel, lost people live in God’s creation, function in His sight, and yet cannot have a personal relationship with Him. They must exercise faith in Christ to gain union with Him. It does not matter how many church memberships, tithes, and prayers are on their account, they are still sinners, fallen short of His glory and righteousness. If they want eternal life and forgiveness of sins, if they want to be saints, they will have to rely on what Jesus Christ did at Calvary to pay for their sins. Nothing they do will ever replace or supplement His finished crosswork!

As long as there is breath in the lost person’s physical body, he or she can trust Christ and have intimate communion with Father God. That person can pass from spiritual death to spiritual life. His or her eternal destiny is not yet fixed. Once the soul leaves the physical body at death, however, the separation of a sinner from God is permanent. It can never be reversed, as temporariness has been traded for eternality. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). The finality of Hell makes it all the more horrific. Hell transitions into the Lake of Fire, the place where lost human souls and evil angels (including Satan) wind up in Revelation chapter 20, especially verses 11-15. The Lake of Fire is the final destination of all creatures doomed to suffer the eternal wrath of a holy, righteous God. They are never released. They can never enjoy God’s love or presence. Why this harsh penalty? That is where they chose to go when they previously rejected His love and presence!!! It is not His fault they were foolish! They should have come to Him when He graciously offered them a friendship! More than enough time was given them on Earth to react positively to His Word.

CONCLUSION

Yes, God is everywhere, including Hell, but He surely cannot suffer His own wrath. That is most silly. Furthermore, the souls in Hell are unable to enjoy His presence there. He sees their souls and hears their cries but will do nothing to rescue them. They have decided to reject His Son Jesus Christ forever. No, they are certainly not reformed—only growing more antagonistic toward Him because they have been fully given over to their preference (sin). They are not sorry they have sinned; they just regret to be suffering punishment for it. The God of the Bible values free will, and knows they have no use for Heaven. He cannot use them for His glory either. All they care about is self. They spurned His beloved Son the Lord Jesus Christ, and trampled under foot His self-sacrifice on Calvary offered to pay for their sins. How can we expect Him to overlook such folly?

Also see:
» How can a “loving” God send people to Hell forever?
» Are the flames of fire in Hell literal?

» Why is Hell forever if life on Earth is but decades?

Should we say “God bless you” after someone sneezes?

SHOULD WE SAY “GOD BLESS YOU” AFTER SOMEONE SNEEZES?

by Shawn Brasseaux

This author ceased the habit once he discovered its superstitious origin. Such words are uttered to implore God to prevent illness from entering our open mouths, to stop evil spirits from coming to live inside our bodies, and/or to keep us alive when our heart “stops” beating when we sneeze. Years ago, this author knew a lady who would exclaim, “God bless you!,” and if the person continued sneezing, she would shout, “God save you!” (It sounded quite weird… not the constant sneezing but the mindless repetition of the words that followed it.) Although these words sound “Christian,” and professing Christians are often those saying them, there is no Scriptural basis for either custom.

We would do well to drop from our vocabulary any and all superstitious phrases (as they can and will jeopardize our testimony—Acts 17:22 speaks of pagans being “too superstitious,” or “fearing more devils than anyone else”). A more appropriate term may be “Excuse you,” which can be stated so as not to appear to be unconcerned (particularly if the person repeatedly sneezes, and is being greatly afflicted by it).

The practice of declaring “God bless you” (or “God save you”) certainly does not ward off evil spirits. First Timothy chapter 4 reminds us how devils operate today: “[1] Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; [2] Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; [3] Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. [4] For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: [5] For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”

Satan is not attempting to enter our bodies through our open mouths—that is just plain ignorance. Rather, he strives to influence us by using evil doctrine, religious tradition, philosophy—anything and everything but sound Bible doctrine. We must remember to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), understanding that Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon are God’s Word to and about us. If we do not use the Bible dispensationally, then we will wind up “in the snare of the devil” (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

SUPPLEMENTAL: WHAT ABOUT “GESUNDHEIT?”

It appears that this term is somewhat superstitious as well. The lexicographers at Merriam-Webster claim the word was first used in 1914. They also say this: “When English speakers hear achoo, they usually respond with either gesundheit or God bless you. Gesundheit was borrowed from German, where it literally means ‘health’; it was formed by a combination of gerund (‘healthy’) and -heit (‘-hood’). Wishing a person good health when they sneezed was traditionally believed to forestall the illness that a sneeze often portends. God bless you had a similar purpose, albeit with more divine weight to the well-wishing. It was once believed that the soul could exit the body during a sneeze, causing ill health, so folks said ‘God bless you’ to ward off this danger. Gesundheit, at one time, also served as a toast when drinking (much like its English counterpart, ‘to your health’), but this usage is now mostly obsolete.”

Saints, throughout the year, please remember us in your monthly giving—these websites do cost money to run! 🙂 You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at arcministries@gmail.com. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! By the way, ministry emails have really been backed up this year. I am handling them as much as humanly possible. Thanks for your patience. 🙂

Also see:
» How does Satan operate today?
» Should we “plead the blood of Jesus?”
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Should we use the book of John in evangelism?

SHOULD WE USE THE BOOK OF JOHN IN EVANGELISM?

by Shawn Brasseaux

If you are familiar with Protestant churches, especially “Evangelical” circles, you have seen or heard them use verses from the book of John during their salvation invitations. John 3:16 is probably the most well-known Bible verse—”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” It is still being used in Gospel tracts and Gospel literature, and can be found on T-shirts, bracelets, church signs, bumper stickers, church bulletins, plaques, mugs, et cetera.

One commentator, representing the average Bible teacher or pastor, wrote the following: “The gospel of John is the one book of the Bible specifically written with the purpose of leading men to Jesus Christ and salvation.” The author went on to talk about how we needed to use John’s Gospel to be “effective witnesses for Christ.” While we agree that John’s Gospel contains many exhortations to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” (John 1:12; John 2:11; John 2:23; John 3:15-18,36; et al.), what exactly were they to believe about Him? (We will answer that question in this study as well.)

The above people encourage us to use the book of John when we witness to lost people. Also, they urge new Christians to begin reading the Bible in the book of John. I heard it constantly during the years I attended denominational churches. Just the other day at a store, a lady was telling me how her church had recommended that she get a new modern-English Bible and start reading in John’s Gospel. (We had a nice discussion after she said that!)

As previously mentioned, many a tracts and books have John 3:16 in them. The famous “ye must be born again” phrase is extracted from John 3:3-7 and placed in Gospel tracts and messages. For some time, I used the Gospel of John to preach and/or teach people about their need to be saved from their sins. While the Gospel of John is most definitely the inspired Word of God, over the years, I have come to understand—like other Pauline dispensationalists—that John is a very important piece of Israel’s Scriptures. We should study the Gospel of John, and we can quote the Gospel of John during salvation messages, but we should be mindful of its original place in God’s Holy Word. (For more information about the original meaning of John 3:16, please see our study linked at the end of this article.)

In this study, we will look at three common points that very few know concerning the Gospel of John and Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry. You will surely read some shocking statements. The average denominational person does not like them, either. However, my friend, it is my hope and prayer that you will let the verses speak for themselves. Above all, by faith, take your stand on the verses!

1. JOHN’S GOSPEL IS WRITTEN TO LOST JEWS TO TELL THEM THAT JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD, MESSIAH/CHRIST.

The Bible book we call “The Gospel According to John” is the fourth and final record of Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry. John is starkly different from the so-called “Synoptic Gospels” (Matthew, Mark, and Luke): the Apostle John emphasizes aspects and events of Christ’s earthly ministry that Matthew, Mark, and Luke usually entirely disregard.

John 1:11-13 introduces the theme of the book of John: “[11] He [Jesus Christ] came unto his own, and his own received him not. [12] But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: [13] Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 20:30,31 elaborate: “[30] And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: [31] But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”

When moving the Apostle John to write his Gospel record, the Holy Ghost selected specific events of Christ’s earthly ministry, eight unique miraculous demonstrations through which Jesus taught Israel various doctrines (our King James Bible calls these miracles “signs”). These signs communicated to Israel that Jesus Christ was their Christ/Messiah, the Son of God, and that He had the ability, the power, to equip them to function as “the sons of God,” men and women who could work with God and delight in accomplishing His earthly purpose and program.

Those last few verses of John chapter 20 are not at all a salvation message for Gentiles. These verses are the heart of the Gospel of the Kingdom, a Gospel message that focuses on who Jesus is. He is the Messiah/Christ, the Son of the living God. There is no mention of His death, burial, or resurrection in the Gospel of the Kingdom. The good news of Calvary was not declared until the Lord Jesus Christ revealed it to the Apostle Paul, over a year after the events of Calvary. Notice the confessions of these Messianic Jews, believers in the Gospel of the Kingdom:

  • Andrew told his brother Simon Peter, “We have found Messias, which is, being interpreted, Christ (John 1:41).
  • Nathanael said to Jesus, “Thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel (John 1:49).
  • Peter said to Jesus, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16).
  • Martha said to Jesus, “I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world” (John 11:27).
  • The Samaritans of John 4:42 said of Jesus, “we… know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.”
  • In Acts 2:36-38, Peter stressed Jesus’ Lordship and Christship and urged Israel to repent and be water baptized in Jesus Christ’s
  • Even as late as Acts 8:37, a year after Calvary, the Gospel was still “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Modern Bible versions and their underlying manuscripts omit this important verse!)

There was nothing in the above verses that made reference to Calvary. The message was simply who Jesus was/is. He is the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God. Notice how in John’s Gospel, as well as in other passages of Israel’s program, that the “name” of Jesus Christ is emphasized. Again, it is a reference to who He is rather than what He did:

  • John 1:12: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”
  • John 3:18: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
  • Acts 3:16: “And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.”
  • Acts 8:12: “But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.”
  • 1 John 3:23: “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”
  • 1 John 5:13: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

2. WE DO NOT KNOW JESUS CHRIST AFTER THE FLESH.

Moved by the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul made it very clear that we do not know Jesus Christ according to His fleshly ministry, and this would include the book of John: “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have know Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more” (2 Corinthians 5:16). There was a time in the Bible when people knew Jesus Christ according to His ministry to the circumcision, the nation Israel.

Read Romans 9:5: “[The Israelites] Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.” And Romans 15:8: “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:” Ephesians 2:12 says that we Gentiles were “without Christ.” During His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ dealt with people on the basis of physical circumcision (Jew) and physical uncircumcision (Gentile). He said, “Salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22). He also declared, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24).

That distinction of Jew/Gentile was done away with when our Dispensation of Grace began. Once Paul’s “all-men” ministry began, God taught mankind not to judge between “Jew and Gentile.” God considered all lost Jews and all lost Gentiles equally satanic and hell-bound. Unbelieving Israel lost her status before God—God considered all lost people “Gentiles,” consigned to hell. Furthermore, in Paul’s ministry, God was taking believing Jews and believing Gentiles and forming the Church the Body of Christ, in which there is neither Jew nor Gentile (Galatians 3:26-28; Galatians 5:6; Galatians 6:15; Colossians 3:10-11). That formation of the Body of Christ is all predicated upon the shed blood of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:13).

3. MUCH OF THE BOOK OF JOHN OCCURRED BEFORE CALVARY.

Absolutely, Jesus Christ talked about His death and His resurrection (see John 2:18-22), but the merits of that crosswork were still unknown to mankind. That was God’s secret that He kept in Himself. If we want to know an exposition of the importance of Calvary’s cross to us Gentiles (Body of Christ), we need to go to the book of Romans. (The book of Hebrews functions as such for the nation Israel.) The first five chapters of Romans discuss how Jesus’ finished work at Calvary can save sinners, chapters 6 through 8 discuss how that crosswork impacts the Christian’s life on a daily basis, and chapters 12 through 16 are a further explanation of how we are to apply those grace doctrines to life.

Now, contrariwise, over 90 percent of the book of John deals with Jesus Christ’s miracles—eight specific signs to be precise. There is no salvation for us contained in Jesus’ miracle ministry. That special ministry was to prove who He was to Israel. It was not John’s intent to evangelize Gentiles with his Gospel record. John said that he was leading people to recognize and believe on the name of Jesus as Messiah/Christ. Such a message would mean nothing to Gentiles. Jews were looking for a Messiah—Messiah was to come to Israel. Gentiles are not looking for a Messiah, friends!

CONCLUSION

Many well-meaning people have urged us to use John’s Gospel record as a salvation tool and as an introduction to the Bible. While we agree that John’s Gospel contains many exhortations to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” (John 1:12; John 2:11; John 2:23; John 3:15-18,36; et al.), what exactly was the message that audience was to believe about Him? Was it “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day?” No. Most of the Gospel of the John details Jesus’ miracles and records His words to His disciples the night before He died. There is actually very little about Calvary in the Gospel of John. We see Jesus crucified in chapter 19 of John, but that is just one chapter and it is dedicated to the historical event of Calvary’s cross. John spent much of his Gospel Record focusing on who Jesus was and how He preached and performed eight miracles to validate who He was. People are taking Paul’s epistles and simply reading them back into the Gospel of John, and that is only blurring the distinction between Paul’s ministry and the other ministries in the Bible.

What John wanted his audience to believe about Jesus was that He was the Son of God, the Christ/Messiah. In John’s Gospel, it was all about who Jesus was rather than what He did at Calvary. Jesus’ identity was in fact no mystery (secret). What Jesus accomplished at Calvary was a mystery/secret (1 Corinthians 2:6-8). Before Paul came, people believed Jesus was Messiah/Christ. What God had not revealed to them was the full merits of His crosswork. (For more information, you can see our study titled, “Who were the people who followed Jesus before Paul?,” linked below.)

The primary Bible book that we should be using for Gospel messages, Gospel tracts, et cetera, for this the Dispensation of Grace, is the book of Romans. Chapters 1-5 talk about the full benefits of Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. The very first Bible book a person should read (when new to the Bible) is the book of Romans. Chapters 6-8 and chapters 12-16 discuss how the Christian life functions on the basis of the doctrine outlined in the first five chapters. I believe it is in accordance with the Devil’s agenda that most Christians and most lost people overlook the book of Romans and start with John, or Acts, or Matthew, or Psalms, or Genesis. In doing so, they never get the clear Gospel message and clear-Christian-living message that the book of Romans gives, thus remaining lost in their sins or confused about how their Christian life should function.

Also see:
» Who were the people who followed Jesus before Paul?
» What is the real meaning of John 3:16?
» I am new to the Bible so where should I begin?