Category: Questions and Answers

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“Is having a pastor or leader in church denominationalism?”

One day I found the following words quoted in a Facebook post:

I dont believe a fellowship can be healthy without headship. An animal with two or more heads will soon or later create a ‘beast’ of confusion. A church ought to have one person who can lead, teach, or guide, either as a pastor or an elder. When the pulpit is left open to different ministers, be assured that the flock won’t be grounded on the rock. That will also open room for ambitious people who will bring up all sorts of ideas…

It was a quote of my words. As always happens on Social Media, different people began to express their views over the statement. One comment caught my attention:

No one should lead the Church except the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). That definition above is only fitting for [an] organisation and denomination. Believers who wanted to be led by people instead of the Lord have a spirit of denominationalism. The reason why Nicolaitism exists today is because of this thinking that a pastor should be the leader…you cannot find that in the word of God.

It is strange how simple things can easily be misunderstood and blown out of context. I had to give a little more explanation to show how scriptures can easily be misapplied. The following was my response:


With all due respect to everyone on this thread, kindly allow me to submit this (especially that this is about words quoted from me). Its a lengthy text, but kindly take time to read.

Whenever a discussion or question veers from context and winds up into a play on semantics, confusion begins where there should be none. And whenever a response to a question is out of context, it may present something TRUE but yet not the TRUTH!

Consider the matter at hand here, that to say “ a church ought to have one person who can lead, teach or guide, either as a pastor or an elder” is an error, and that “no one should lead the church except the Holy Spirit (Joh.16:13).” Really? What is to lead? When a church has a leader is that really Nicolaitanism? That is not only blowing things out of context but out of proportion.

To “lead” is to guide, rule, or to be followed by people. Another term often used in place of “lead” in the English language is “head.” Now, much as we live in a time of carnal men leading churches through pride or selfish reasons, we must not lose sight of the fact that leadership is rooted in the Scripture. I know of a church in my country which has no pastor; they don’t have one person to guide the assembly on doctrine or conduct. Everyone is free to minister. As expected, the church always suffers from breakaways and strange doctrines.

Consider what Hebrews 13:7 says:  “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” Another translation puts it this way: “Remember your leaders who have spoken to you the word of God; and considering the issue of their conversation, imitate their faith” (DBV). Compare this verse with 1 Timothy 3:4-5.

Firstly, was the writer of Hebrews encouraging Nicolaitanism by stating that preachers were rulers in the house of God? Ofcourse a carnal person can blow the verse out of proportion and make himself a pope in a congregation. Well, “spiritual things are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor.2:14) and I want to believe I am speaking to spiritual people who will understand my words in their context. Note that the Greek term for the phrase “rule over you” in Hebrews 13:7 is “hegeomai” and it means to “lead” or “command with authority.” If one has ever experienced sitting under a true anointed ministry – I have – they will know that truly God-called men rule the house of God with the authority of God’s Word! (1 Tim.4:11-16). And ofcourse spiritual people are able to discern when such a man veers off into pride and ceases to rule by God’s authority.

Secondly, what does the writer of Hebrews mean when he says “whose faith follow”? What is the term used to describe a person followed by other people? Leader, right? Did not Paul say “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor.11:1). So, will a carnal mind be in order to say, “Paul was wrong, we need to follow Christ, not him!” Such is always the result of failing to grasp words within their context.

Consider this: the Lord Jesus taught that we should call no man on earth “father” (Mat.23:9).  Was Paul in error to write believers at Corinth, saying: “I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (1 Cor.4:14-15)? Here Paul was admonishing a church that although there were many preachers who may have visited the assembly to exhort or instruct in faith, it was him specifically who begat them in the gospel! A person who would only dwell on semantics and miss the context of words can accuse Paul of error – “We are sons of God, not your sons!” or “We get born again by the Holy Spirit; its not you who begat us!” On the other extreme end again, a proud person can misapply this scripture to justify their egoistic ambitions. But to those with ears to hear what the Spirit says to the churches, they have the discernment to know when a man’s rulership in the house of God has ceased to be one of the Word, but of his carnal ambitions. Shalom.

“Brother Phiri I heard an Adventist preacher explaining that Matthew 24:39-40 is not about the Rapture. The people who ‘shall be taken’ actually go into destruction (as it was in the days of Noah)…”

Question:

“Brother Phiri I heard an Adventist preacher explaining that Matthew 24:39-40 is not about the Rapture. This passage of Scripture  says, ‘For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking…and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.’ This verse shows that just like the flood of Noah took away the sinful people, so shall one be taken (into destruction) and the other left (for the salvation of God). This is further established by 1 Thessalonians 4:17 which states, ‘we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air’ “


This is a case of gross misinterpretation of terms and phrases used in Scripture. I also once saw an Adventist preacher use the above reasoning to rubbish the doctrine of the Rapture. The audience seemed so stimulated by the preacher’s eloquence and ability to connect the wordings of different passages of Scripture. Hearing him speak I came to learn that not all stimulation is of the Holy Spirit; some stimulation can result from a concoction of poorly mixed Scriptures.  Let us approach this question beginning with 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

  • Understanding the word “remain” in 1 Thessalonians 4

When a person only reads verse 17, which says “we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air”, and then tries to make a connection with the English wording in Matthew 24:39-40, it seems to suggest that the ones who remain actually meet the Saviour, and those who are “taken” actually go into destruction.

To have a correct understanding of what Paul was saying in the passage we should read the passage beginning with verse 13. When we do that what will immediately become clear is that Paul was encouraging believers not to lose hope when someone dies. In verse 15 he explained that at the time of the coming of Christ there will be two groups of people – those who died and those who will be alive at the time of Christ’s coming. Those who died will be raised with a changed body, and “we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord” will also be changed! So he says that there will be a group which will be alive, and will remain in this state of being alive (without tasting death) until the day of the coming of the Lord.

As well explained in the Cambridge English dictionary, the word “remain” has two meanings:

1) Remain means “to stay in the same place or in the same condition”. For example, his parents ordered him to remain at the house for a few weeks.

2) Remain also means “to continue to exist when other parts or other things no longer exist.

It should be very clear that the phrase “remain unto the coming of the Lord uses the word remain in the context of the second definition above. The word is not about a place but a state of being alive or dead!  We can therefore paraphrase the verse to read, “We which are alive and will continue to exist (or be alive) up to the time of the coming of the Lord…”

Before we analyse Matthew 24:39-40 let us read the same message of Christ as was recorded by Luke.

  • Looking at the record of Luke

In Luke 17 the Lord first mentions about Lot being taken out of Sodom before the destruction fell – “But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.” (Luk.17:29, cf. Gen.19:16). The Lord went further to say that it shall be so in that day when the Son of Man shall be revealed. And then he admonished: “Remember Lot’s wife” (v.32). Well, after telling them about Lot moving out of Sodom, what did he want the disciples to remember about Lot? Simply that at the time of the family being taken out of Sodom she remained because of her unbelief! It is from there that the Lord continued saying, “I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left” (v.35). In the context of the story of Lot and his wife, it is clear that the ones being taken out go into safety, and those remaining are left to destruction. Now, let’s move on and analyse the account in Matthew 24:39-40.

  • Understanding the word “taken” and “left” in Matthew 24.

Apart from reading a passage of Scripture in its context, to gain a correct understanding of words used in the Bible, looking up words in Hebrew or Greek (languages that were used to write Scripture) can be of great help. Matthew 24:39-40 reads “And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

In verse 39 the words  “took them all away” were translated from two Greek words – airo and hapas. Airo means to remove,  lift up or to keep in suspense as with what flood waters can do to a person. Hapas means everyone. So this speaks of a people being lifted up or blown away in suspense by flood waters. However, the phrase “shall be taken”, used in verse 40, has a different meaning:  The Greek word used is paralambano and means “to receive near” as in an intimate act or relation, or to “take with.” It does not suggest anything destructive.

The word “left” (in verse 40) in Greek is aphiemi and means to be in a state of being forsaken, omitted, put (or sent) away, or suffering. So, to suggest that those who are left in the wording of Jesus are the good people who will experience the goodness of God is grossly misleading!

  • “Wheresoever the body is…”

Finally let us look at what the Lord answered when he was asked by the disciples about where the people “taken”  will go –  “Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together” (Luk.17:36-37).

The question the disciples asked reveals that this wasn’t about being “taken” as in a flood! Consider this: if someone told you, “There will be a flood which will sweep across this place and may blow us away”, won’t it be preposterous to ask: “Where exactly will the flood take us?”

Now to suggest that those who are taken are unbelievers and are therefore likened to carcass to be eaten up by vultures (as was explained by the preacher I heard) would be incongruent with the thought portrayed by the words of the verse. The answer given by the Lord to the question of where the taken ones will go was – “wheresoever the body is [i.e. the place] thither will the eagles be gathered”. It should be clear here that the people being taken are represented by eagles (not the carcass!). So, contrary to the idea that they are taken into destruction, they are actually taken into a place where they will be feasting!

“What can I do to receive the Holy Spirit and the power to perform Signs and Wonders according to Acts 1:8?”

What is “power”? It is important to know that a wrong understanding of things can lead to false hope and meaningless expectations. We live at a time when the much noise of Charismaticism has deafened ears of people so that they no longer can hear what Scriptures actually say. Drama has overshadowed reality in many assemblies of Christians.

In the year 2011 I was in Karamoja in Uganda. After a brother from Kenya ended his preaching ( it was a simple sharing which encouraged believers never to worry but to stay strong in Faith), brother John Mark walked to the pulpit to dismiss the small gathering in a tent as he said “We thank the Lord for His mighty hand in this service. The hand of the Lord is through his ministers who bring the Word.” If I was back in my pentecostal faith this would have been confusing: how could he say a ‘mighty visitation of God’ when  no sign or miracle had occured?

Consider this: Elijah was a mighty prophet who performed great signs and wonders. His successor was Elisha. This man received a double portion of Elijah’s spirit and signs also manifested in his ministry (2 Kin. 2:9). In the opening of the New Testament we read about a baby who was to be born and named John and was to have “the spirit and power of Elias” (Luk.1:17). Now, if you lived at the time of this prophecy, what would you have expected of John’s ministry? For many, “Spirit and Power of Elijah” equals “Signs and Wonders.” But when we look at John 10:41 we read that in his ministry John “did no miracle“! In this we see that  the Truth of Scripture cannot be perceived by merely comparing stories or words. This should lead us to the important question – What was the Power of Elijah?

The Power of Prophets

The Power of Elijah, or any other true prophet, is the Word of God. It is in the prophet’s ability to truly speak in the Name of the Lord that sets him apart. Like the children of Israel were admonished, “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him” (Deu.18:22). Now, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son…by whom he also made the worlds” (Heb.1:1-2). That was the Word which was in the beginning and by which everything was made (Joh. 1:1-4).

The people who receive the Word are given power to become sons of God (Joh. 1:12). Unfortunately, what many people have received is not the power of the Word but a mere appearance (form) of godliness. Like  apostle Paul admonished, they have “a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Tim. 3:5). The true Gospel is seasoned with power that can convert a person into a truly godly person. That is true salvation  – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom. 1:16)!

In all this we see that the true Gospel is not a mere intellectual teaching or dogma. It has life and power to transform people. Likewise the men who carry this Word of Power proclaim it with authority for it is like fire shut up in their hearts (cf. Jer.20:9). When people heard the Lord Jesus teach, they were “astonished at his doctrine for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the [intellectual] scribes” (Mat.7:28-29).

Out of the Power of the Word flows Deliverance

Many years ago, I took my Bible and with my friend went into the neighbourhood to share the Word of God. As we walked on the roadside we noticed a woman who was sitting at the door of her house. We went where she was and told her we were going round the compound to share the Gospel. She welcomed us. As I began to speak  the Word she began to manifest demons. The power of God’s Word was present to challenge the demons that resided in her heart.

Out of the power of the Word flows salvation, joy, healing, and deliverance. The Word never flows out of signs. It should be signs flowing from the Word. Never give ear to any sign that does not proceed from the Word of God. That is a lying wonder (2 Thes.2:9). In this we can discern the true Gospel from the false one. The false one is dead. It has no life-giving power to transform hearts. The false Gospel is like a stove that is supposed to carry electricity but is not connected to any power source. It can have all the claims to have power but yet has none. But the stove with power flowing through it is live and no flies will sit on its hot plates. Just how many times have we seen believers oppressed by evil spirits of worry, depression, carnality, conflicts with other people? The spirits are free to sit on them because they are cold and no power of the Word abides in them! It is important to know that the Gospel is not in Word only, it has Power! (1 Cor.4:20, 1 Cor.2:4-5).

When the Word is spoken and the Holy Spirit speaks to the heart of a person, they will experience the piercing Sword of the Spirit (cf. Luk.2:35). The Spirit will convict the worldliness in a heart (Joh. 16:8) and bring it to repentance. That is what happened to the people Peter preached to on the day of Pentecost – “Now when they heard this [the preaching of Peter], they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles , Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Act.2:37). The same Word that brings conviction also comes with the Joy that gives strength and liberates a person (Neh.8:10, Joh. 8:32).

The Power of the Spirit makes you a Witness

In Acts 1:8 we read that, “Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me.” The word “witness” used here doesn’t mean going about from house to house trying to make converts to a doctrine. Neither does the word “witness” mean performing miracles. The word used in the Greek manuscript is “Martyr”, a person who dies for the cause of Christ. Yes, when a person has truly received Christ, they die to their flesh as they yield themselves to the leading of the Spirit. They become ‘martyrs’. Like Paul they can say, “I die daily” (1 Cor.15:31). In dying to their will and desires, they let Christ manifest in them and by that they truly become His witnesses. Yes, through them the world will see that Jesus Christ is still alive and living in people – “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal.2:20).

Here is counsel: Seek not signs and wonders. Seek for a closer relationship with God. Abide in His Word and live simply as a child of God. There is a time for everything. At the time of Elijah God used his prophet with miracles. But in John, a man who came in the spirit and power of Elijah, no miracle was wrought. However, at all times God’s Word has always manifested with Power. The question is: have you the eyes to know what is the power of God?

“We respect and honor the virgin Mary for being the Mother of Jesus. What is wrong with that?”

Someone once had that idea when she saw the Lord Jesus preaching. It was a woman, she got excited and exclaimed in the audience saying, “Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked” (Luke 11:27). But the Lord Jesus in answering attached no spiritual or religious value to the womb of Mary that bore him – “he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:28).

What about Mary herself, how did she regard her relationship with the Lord? Did she feel a little more important and deserving of special attention? Well, one day when there was a crowd, gathered in and around a home where the Lord was teaching, she and her other sons arrived desiring to see him. But they “could not  come at him for the press” (Luke 8:19). A word reached the Lord Jesus telling him, “Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee” (v.20). Think of it: Were the people not supposed to have made a way for Mary to come into the house? And was Jesus’ family desiring to interrupt  preaching to have a little time with their now famous family member? Whatever it was, the Lord spoke what many (if you were his mother, brother or sister) would have felt offended – “And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the Word of God and do it” (Luke 8:21).

There is nothing wrong with respecting anyone, but it should be clearly discernable when the word ‘respect’ has become a misused term for what actually happens – Worship! This is not about someone’s right intentions to please and honor God. A person can be sincerely wrong because sincerity does not define Truth. Remember Cain: he tried to offer a beautiful and best sacrifice of his farm-produce but it was rejected because it was not according to the Word!

Why is there a discrepancy in geneologies of Jesus found in Matthew and Luke?

Question:

“Jesus descended from the family of David. Solomon and Nathan were some of the children of David. Matthew’s geneology shows Jesus to have come through Solomon (Mat. 1:6) and the geneology in Luke lists Nathan (Luk.3:31). How can such a discrepancy be found in what is supposed to be inspired Scripture?”


Response

Physically speaking Jesus Christ descended from the family line of King David (Rom.1:3). King David had many children and among them was Solomon and Nathan (1 Chr.3:5).

The genealogy of Jesus according to the Gospel of Matthew is traced through Solomon (Mat.1:6) and the one in Luke is traced through Nathan (Luk.3:31). This raises an important question: How can such a discrepancy be found in Scripture which is supposed to be inspired (“inbreathed”) of God and hence containing no error? The discrepancy leads to two different genealogies as evidenced by different names being stated for the father of Joseph – In Matthew Jacob and in Luke Heli! So, did Joseph have two fathers?

Well, consider this: How would you write the genealogy of a person who has no father? A genealogy is normally traced through males as they are the seed-carriers. This is the challenge that we encounter when trying to list the genealogy of Jesus. However, it is acceptable to either list His genealogy through Joseph, His foster-father, in order to satisfy an earthly (legal) requirement, or to come closer to a natural genealogy by listing Mary, the woman who bore him, on the genealogy. If two lists of such genealogies existed they wouldn’t be contradictory to each other but complementary. This is exactly the case with the two genealogies of Jesus.

When the record of Luke is read in the original language an important clue shows up: In Greek every name in the genealogy, except that of Heli, is preceded with the definite article “the”. That brings our focus to Heli. Thankfully again, a historical source saves us the time to unravel the puzzle: in the Talmud of Jerusalem Heli is referred to as the father of Mary! So, instead of putting Mary on the genealogy, her father’s name was listed. In this light we can actually read Luke 3:23 as, “Joseph, which was the son-in-law of Heli”. It is in that sense that we can say, Yes Joseph had two fathers: Jacob his natural father, and Heli his father in law. Thus, what we have in Luke is a maternal genealogy and the one in Matthew a paternal genealogy.

Find other plausible explanations to the genealogy question here.

 

 

“Andrew, if you were born in Afghanistan, you would have been a Taliban and would have bombed for your God! Faith is not about Truth but what influenced your upbringing!”

How can the truthfulness or falsehood of a fact be determined by where someone has grown or lived? While it is true that an environment can influence a person’s belief, assessment of the truthfulness of his beliefs should be based on the evaluation of facts claimed by the belief system and not the examination of influences that may have led to the belief. For example, Michael Faraday a British physicist and Chemist was a deeply religious man; his obsession of science was influenced by his belief that the underlying power of God unified everything in nature. His faith inspired him to perform a lot of scientific experiments to decipher God’s handiwork in nature.

Now, while someone may disagree with Faraday’s religious convictions it is worthwhile to note that they are what led him to discover electromagnetic induction and electrolysis. So, would it be reasonable to discard electromagnetic induction and electrolysis on the basis of Faraday’s religious influences that led to their discovery?

It is true that science and faith do not use the same instruments of empirical verification, however, it is important to see that they both present facts which can be assessed by  following where the evidence leads. So, although someone may have grown up in a region where a certain religion is practised, as he grows up and gets exposed to knowledge, he should make an informed decision concerning his faith. If a person calls himself a believer but without any reason for his beliefs, apart from carrying on what his family, race or people are accustomed to, then he or she actually does not truly believe! His faith is blind and a product of adaptation. Although there are many people who are Christians in this way, it is important to be aware that there are also some whose faith is based on evidence. Isn’t Faith scripturally defined as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb.11:1)?

That is why  some Christians have afterward converted to Islam and others who grew up as well-trained Islamists later converted to Christianity. Likewise, there have been atheists who later converted to theism  – Clive S. Lewis, Anthony Flew, Francis Collins, just to mention three examples.

Such is human life, we grow up and later decide for ourselves what we think is the best explanation of things around us. Similarly, True Faith ais not a blind assumption but an experience of Truth – “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6). Faith is not a blind hope; it is a hope grounded in reason – “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” (1 Pet.3:15).

“Why did God create Lucifer knowing he would fail?”

Another way this question is often asked is “if God knows the future, why didn’t He prevent evil from the Beginning?

It is important to know that angels and human beings were created to be a family of conscious beings, endowed with Free Will. I find Free Will to be the most mysterious act of God – Just how did He make something to be self-aware and have freedom of choice? I would say, the strongest force in the world is not Gravity but Free Will; the most elusive thing is not Dark Matter but the freedom to choose! Free Will is the ability to think, reason and choose. Free Will was (and is) the only way to have a real world. This real world ought to have love and fellowship. However, Free Will also creates a possibility to commit wrong or evil.

Surely God knew what a world of sentient beings would entail. He knew about the possibility of evil that would exist. Yes, He knew about the temptation Lucifer would experience to rise against God. God’s ability to declare the “end” from the “beginning” sets Him apart – “I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand (Isa.46:9-10). But, it should be noted that His ability to know the future  of a conscious being must not be confused with Him causing the being to do something (that would violate Free Will). However, God graciously (actually mysteriously) provided a way of escape to anyone who would follow His counsel. His wise counsel always stands because he knows what was, what is, and what shall be! It follows that any creature that is wise would follow the counsel of this all-wise and all-knowing God.

Price of Free Will

Some may argue that if God knows the future of something evil about to occur, He should either prevent the evil or guard a person from being influenced by the evil. Well, that cannot be. It is important to appreciate the fact that although God would be able to create such a world; a world that is void of the knowledge of evil but only populated with creatures that are programmed to do good wouldn’t be a true real world. So, despite the possibility of evil, we can say that God was willing to pay the Price of Free Will. Like CS Lewis explained:

If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will – that is, for making a live world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings – then we may take it it  is worth paying.

Lewis again:

Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong; I cannot. If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible  any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata – of creatures that worked like machines – would hardly be worth creating.

So, when man later chose the wrong way in exercising his curiosity, God let him freely abandon the right way; man was free to partake of ‘the forbidden tree’ but he had to live through the ‘fruit’ (i.e. consequences) of his choice – “For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices” (Proverbs 1:29-31).

Why allow Failure?

From the explanation above a question arises: What is the worth of creating something that you know will fail? Well, it may seem a vain exercise but not so when you perceive the intention of God: The presence of Free Will where the creator promises future redemption for a wrong can be rationalized if there is an intention to let the “vanity” expose the foolishness of a wrong, and hence use this process as a learning experience for the wrong doer. It can thus be explained that God’s willingness to temporarily lose creation to vanity is in hope that the sentient being will through experience come to freely choose God’s perfect will. As the Scripture says: 

For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Romans 8:20-23).

It is in this context that we can say God permits (or “creates”) evil – (Isa.45:7).

If the creature was to be made to accept God’s perfect will without learning or choice then that wouldn’t be true choice in the first place. We can see God working in the same manner with regards the giving of the Law – “that every mouth maybe stopped and all the world may become guilty before God” (Rom.3:19).  The learning process appears to be the way God lets people follow His Perfect Will but without infringing on their right of Free Will. They chose to follow God’s way by perceiving the goodness and righteousness of God.

So we can say that God permitted evil not as His Perfect Will but as something that was necessary for a world with Free Will. Even so, the same Free Will provides an opportunity to escape a bad end. It is for this reason that the “Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet.3:9). To understand how God knows the future of someone but yet allows Free Will for their escape seems as elusive as Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.

“Why did William Branham die in a wreck of an accident? Was it a Curse from God?”

The human mind loves to speculate. Let us start from Elijah the Tishbite. This was the man who once shut up the heavens so that it rained not and had called fire from heaven, a showdown against prophets of Baal. His ministry had such a majestic end – he was carried by a chariot of fire! (2 Kings 2:11). He did not experience death. The man after him was Elisha. Elisha had a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Would his ending be as glorious as Elijah’s? Would that be a true test of the authenticity of his ‘Elijah’ anointing?

Elisha performed great miracles including the healing of men who had eaten a poisonous meal. He also once multiplied bread so that a  hundred people were fed (2 Kings 4:38-44). But as always happens, carnal men must have wondered at his ministry – was he a mere mortal man or he was something more, a divine being? Well, he was a great servant of God but he was still flesh and blood. His death by a sickness showed that. It signified to the people that all glory belongs to God and Elisha was only a vessel of God. Did the death of Elisha mean that God had abandoned or cursed him? Far from it: When a dead man touched Elisha’s bones, he revived and came back to life! (2 Kings 13:21). What else could that mean but that Elisha died serving God?

Next, we have John the baptist. He died a more terrible death than Elisha. After rebuking King Herod of his sinful marriage, he was imprisoned. John may have expected that since the Messiah had been revealed, the Roman empire according to prophecies of Daniel would soon give way to the establishment of the Kingdom of God. But as he lingered on in jail and was about to be killed, he got troubled and sent to ask Jesus, “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” (Mattew 11:3). If God wanted he would have revealed to John more events to transpire before the physical manifestation and establishment of the Kingdom of God. However, God only revealed what was appropriate for John to know. John was beheaded. Scorners were certainly there to mock, “If he was truly Elijah why didnt he call fire from heaven to devour his enemies?”

Gentiles in the twentieth century witnessed an Elijah ministry in William Branham. So great a ministry it was that volumes of books and tapes have been recorded testifying of the signs and wonders that occured in his ministry. The ministry was too peculiar for many people. Branham had to be more than a man, they speculated ( a thing William Branham so harshly condemned in no uncertain terms!) Well, it is no surprising that people went to such extremes. Never before had Gentiles seen a mortal see visions and call out people’s names and their diseases, healing cancers and causing the lame to walk, the blind to see, and the dead come back to life. God would literally take over this man as he spoke THUS SAITH THE LORD. But at the end of his ministry, God again showed us that he was only human flesh, a vessel which had only yielded itself into the master’s hands. All glory had to be given to God. Even so, on that accident scene when his hand was made to touch his dead wife and she came back to life, God (like he did with Elisha’s bones reviving a dead man) testified of His presence still on the man. A confusing sign it was: The death confounded some people to reject the man, the revelation of the Word, and testimony of life on his wife, comforted the believers.

The world is yet to see the last Elijah to be sent to the nation of Israel. His ministry will manifest together with ‘Moses’.Together these men will astound and trouble the world. But at the end of it all, their lives will be terminated in a cruel death which will make the world rejoice. The Scripture has already prophesied their  death in Revelation 11. But again, God will do something to raise them up!