Sermon #1454                                        Miscellaneous Sermons


     Title:            Questions and Issues Men Raise

     Text:            1 Peter 3:15

     Subject:       Questions Men Raise About Spiritual Things

     Date:            Monday Morning -- February 26, 2000

                        Preachers' School -- Merida, Mexico



     Bros. Walter and Cody have asked me to deal with some specific questions and issues you and I face as pastors. So I thought a good starting place would be 1 Peter 3:15. The questions I have been asked to deal with are all questions I have been asked countless times over the past 30 years as a pastor. The fact that these are questions you have either asked or been asked tells me that we all face the same issues, though we are separated by many miles, live in different countries, and come from different cultural back grounds. Let's look at 1 Peter 3:15. Then I will address the questions I have been asked to deal with.


[1 Peter 3:15]  "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:"


     When Peter tells us to be ready to give an answer to every man that asks the reason of our hope…


·        He is not suggesting that we should even try to answer all the questions men raise about the gospel and the things of God.

·        He certainly is not suggesting we should debate with men about holy things.

·        He is telling us that we should be ready to give men the reason of our faith and hope in Christ. We should be able to take men and women to the Word of God and say, "Here, this is the reason I believe what I do. It is right here in the Book of God."


     I want to raise and answer six questions. Some of them are in areas of vital importance. Some are of somewhat less importance. Yet, even those that may be of less importance are very important and may be matters of vital importance, if they are not properly answered and understood. In other words, we will not be dealing with mere points of theological speculation this morning. So I want you to follow very carefully through the Scriptures. If you have questions, jot them down in your notes, and I will be happy to answer them when we are done, if I am able to do so.


I.       The first question we will deal with is first in number and first in importance. It is a question raised by the Lord Jesus himself. You will find it in Matthew 22:42 -- "What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he?"


     Be sure you see the context in which our Lord asked this question. The religious crowd of the day, the liberals and the conservatives, the intellectuals and the fundamentalists, had all ganged up on the Son of God and tried to pose questions to trick him. Our Lord answered their questions, but only very briefly because they asked questions about things that just don't matter. He answered them only to lead them to the greater, indeed, the one great question of real importance.


·        The Pharisees, who despised the Roman government, asked him whether we should pay taxes, trying to trick the Savior into declaring insurrection (vv. 15-22).

·        The Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection, asked him about whose wife a woman would be in the resurrection (which they denied) who had had seven husbands (vv. 23-33).

·        Then, the Pharisees and Sadducees (who hated each other) got together and asked, "Which is the great commandment?" (vv. 34-40).


Then, in verses 41 and following, our Lord put this question to them, and answered it.


[Matthew 22:41-46]  "While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, [42] Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David. [43] He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, [44] The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? [45] If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? [46] And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions."


     He who is our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ is both the son of David and David's Lord. He is both the eternal God and the perfect man, fully God and fully man.


A.   We are Trinitarians because this Book plainly declares the doctrine of the trinity (1 John 5:7).


[1 John 5:7]  "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."


B.    Our Savior is God the eternal Son, the only begotten Son of the Father, the eternally begotten So of the eternally begetting Father.


     He who is our Savior is God manifest in the flesh, as fully God as though he were not man, and as fully man, as though he were not God. Were he not both God and man, he could not be our Savior. But, because he is both God and man, all that he did, and all that he does, must be infinitely meritorious and effectual.


[John 1:1-3]  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] The same was in the beginning with God. [3] All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made."


[John 1:15-18]  "John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. [16] And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. [17] For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. [18] No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."


[Colossians 2:9-10]  "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. [10] And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:"


[1 Timothy 3:16]  "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."


C.   This incarnate, almighty God-man, our Mediator, is Jehovah's voluntary Servant (Isa. 42:4).


[Isaiah 42:1-4]  "Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. [2] He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. [3] A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. [4] He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law."


[John 10:16-18]  "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. [17] Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. [18] No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father."


II.    Is the kingdom of God a carnal, material kingdom, or a spiritual kingdom?


[Luke 17:20-21]  "And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: [21] Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you."


[John 3:1-7]  "There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: [2] The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. [3] Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. [4] Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? [5] Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. [6] That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. [7] Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again."


[Romans 14:7]  "For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself."


[Philippians 3:3]  "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."


III. Was the baptism of John the Baptist Christian baptism?


[Matthew 3:5-6]  "Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, [6] And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins."


[Matthew 3:13-17]  "Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. [14] But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? [15] And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. [16] And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: [17] And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."


[Acts 19:1-7]  "And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, [2] He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. [3] And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. [4] Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. [5] When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. [6] And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. [7] And all the men were about twelve."


[Romans 6:1-7]  "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? [2] God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? [3] Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? [4] Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. [5] For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: [6] Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. [7] For he that is dead is freed from sin."


IV.            Why did John the Baptist send his disciples to Christ to ask him, "Art Thou the Christ, or look we for another?"


[Luke 7:18-23]  "And the disciples of John showed him of all these things. [19] And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? [20] When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? [21] And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. [22] Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. [23] And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me."


V.   In what sense did women prophesy?


[Acts 21:9]  "And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy."


Philip's virgin daughters prophesied. There is no indication that these girls had taken a vow of virginity! They were simply young women who were not yet married and were virgins, as all unmarried women should be. These young ladies had a gift of prophecy.

That does not imply that they taught and explained the Scriptures, or preached in the public assemblies of the church. That would have been a direct violation of the Word of God (I Cor. 15:34-35; I Tim. 2:11-12). When Luke tells us they "did prophesy", he simply means either that they worshipped God or that they had the gift to foretell future events by the Spirit of God.

This was one of the many extraordinary signs of the fulfillment of Joel's prophecy in apostolic times (Joel 2:28). We can only guess what the subject of their prophecy was, but the context helps us. Like the disciples at Tyre (v. 4) and Aqabus (v. 11), Philip's daughters probably warned Paul of the danger awaiting him at Jerusalem. Over and over again the Holy Spirit plainly told Paul the things he would face at Jerusalem. He knew that certain death awaited him (Acts 20:25).

     But this is crystal clear. -- They were not female preachers.


[1 Corinthians 14:34]  "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law."


[1 Timothy 2:10-15]  "But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. [11] Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. [12] But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. [13] For Adam was first formed, then Eve. [14] And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. [15] Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety."


VI.Why on earth did Paul take the Nazarite vow with those four men at Jerusalem? (Acts 21:17-26).


[Acts 21:17-26]  "And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. [18] And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. [19] And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. [20] And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: [21] And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. [22] What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. [23] Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; [24] Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law. [25] As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication. [26] Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them."


This is, without question, one of the saddest paragraphs in the Bible. A terrible, tragic thing is about to take place. No man was a greater, or more consistent exponent of the believer's freedom from the law than Paul. Yet, he is about to go back under the yoke of bondage!

James and the elders at Jerusalem persuaded Paul that, in order to conciliate the Jews and put an end to the scandalous reports they had heard about him, he should give public approval to the observance of the ceremonial law of Moses. They compelled him to go into the temple with four men who had taken a Nazarite vow (Num. 6:2, 13) and offer a sacrifice of purification; and Paul did it!

Without question, this action was contrary to everything Paul taught (Gal. 2:3, 11; 3:1-3; 5:1; Col. 2:16). By example and by association, Paul gave approval to legalism. His action could only encourage others to retain the spirit of legalism and both confuse and dishearten the Gentile believers. To this day, legalists point to this passage as an argument why we should live under the yoke of the law.

Why did Paul submit to this legal ceremony? The believing Jews had not yet seen the destruction of the temple. During this time of transition, most Jewish believers continued to observe the customs of the law. God virtually had to break their hands to get them to let go of Moses and the carnal ceremonies of the law. But why did Paul, who knew better, do this horrible thing?

No doubt, he was trying to be conciliatory to the believing Jews who were yet weak in the faith (I Cor. 9:19-23). That is commendable. Those who are weak in the faith are to be borne with in patience. We must do nothing to offend them. But we must not, even for the sake of nurturing the weak, do that which is contrary to the gospel of Christ or in violation of our own conscience. We can do without wine or meat to keep a brother from stumbling; but we cannot and must not pretend to live by legal principles to keep from offending a legalist! If we join others in committing evil and compromise the gospel of grace in the name of christian love, we will not help them, and are likely to hinder many others. In addition to those things, Paul was probably simply tired of fighting with his brethren over the law. He finally gave in; but he regretted it. His strongest instructions about the believer's total freedom from the law in Christ were written after this incident.

     Besides, the compromise did not work (vv. 27-40). It never does! The Jews were not conciliated. It is a vain thing to imagine that men can be pleased and that their approval of the gospel can be won by compromise. However, it must not be forgotten that God graciously overruled even this sad blemish in Paul's life to accomplish his purpose. This too proved to be good for Paul, good for God's elect, and for the glory of God. Had he not gone into the temple that day, he would not have been arrested, he would not have gone to Rome, he would not have written his prison epistles, he would not have been martyred for Christ. Without question, God brought good out of evil; and he still does!