Answers to common Biblical Questions
There are a number of common questions and issues that arise
in discussions among Bible believing Christians. In this chapter, we'll explore
a few of those topics, to see what light the Scriptures themselves
will shed on the truth our Creator and Savior wants us to know.
STATUES AND RELIGIOUS OBJECTS
In Exodus 20:4,5 we can read:
"You shall not carve idols (graven images) for yourselves...you shall
not bow down before them and worship them." Many sincere Bible
students who contemplate this Scripture passage feel that the use of
statutes, crucifixes (crosses with the image of Jesus), and other objects
of religious art are prohibited by this passage. But is that what
God really intended?
Notice that in Exodus chapter 25, God gives Moses some other
commands for His People. "This is what the Lord said to
Moses..."They shall make a sanctuary for me, that I may dwell in their midst. This
Dwelling and all its furnishings you shall make exactly according to the
pattern that I will now give you. You shall make an ark...In the ark you
are to put the commandments which I will give you...make two
cherubim of beaten gold for the two ends...the cherubim shall have their
wings spread out above, covering the....propitiatory you shall place
above the ark." (Ex. 25:1,8-9,10,16,18, 20,21) Here, and in
numerous other places in the Bible, God ordered His People to build a very
ornate statue, in this case of two angels which seem to be facing the
Ten Commandments, as if they are praying or meditating about them.
So it should be clear that if God himself ordered statues and
religious symbols, that the use of such items by Christians is not in
itself evil. A careful reading of Exodus 20:4-5 in context clarifies
God's teaching: He doesn't want people WORSHIPING an idol, as if the
idol were itself a god. Since such idol worship was common among the
pagan nations around Israel, the Lord was simply trying to prevent His
Chosen People from falling into the sin of worshipping a 'graven image'
or false god. But statues or other objects associated with the
worship of the True God were not only permitted but commanded by God; the
Lord was making a distinction for believers between using
religious objects properly and improperly.
So churches that use statues and religious objects as aids to
prayer are not violating the Bible. In fact, they are following the
pattern that God Himself established for man's worship! Does your church
use such religious art?
As some closing thoughts on this point, do you have photos of your family?
Do you 'worship' those photos? No. They are there as reminders of
people you care about. Statues and religious art have existed from the earliest
days of Christianity, as a tour through this web site reveal. They used that art as you use
a photo of a loved one! It is clear that
the first Christians didn't worship these images, and that their Christian art
was used to teach, inspire and enhance the faith that they had in their Risen Savior!
ONE MEDIATOR FOR MAN.
"For there is one God, and one
God and men, the man Jesus Christ." (1 Tim. 2:5)
someone quotes from the Scriptures it is good to keep in mind that the
devil himself quoted from the Scriptures in his attempt to cause Jesus
to sin (Mt. 4:1-11). It's obvious that Scripture can be taken out of
context to say almost anything, so it is important to carefully
consider the intended meaning of the inspired writer, and other Scriptures
that may relate to the same subject as well. A good example of
this is the verse we have started with above.
Some Christians insist that we should not pray to angels or
saints, on the basis of 1 Timothy 2:5; implying such prayer violates
Christ's role as the "sole mediator" between God and man. Yet,
consider these related Scripture verses:
"For this reason He is a mediator of a new covenant..."
The writer of Hebrews in this verse (9:15) reminds us that Jesus is our
mediator, yet later in chapter 13:18-19 he writes "pray for us...I
especially ask for your prayers that I may be restored to you very
Chapter 11 recounts many of the 'heroes' of the Old Testament, those who
have died "approved because of their faith" (Heb. 11:39) and
in 12:1 we read "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud
of witnesses"...now, it is clear from this context, that these faithful saints are
witnessing for believers before God in heaven on our behalf! These witnesses
can lead us by example to a closer relationship with Christ, as
the writer exhorts us, "...while keeping our eyes fixed on
Jesus, the leader and perfecter of our faith." (Heb. 12:2). We see
examples of intercessory prayer in Hebrews, reminiscent of John's vision of
heaven in Revelation, where the heavenly "elders held a harp and
gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the saints."
Remember too that Romans 8:35-39, Paul tells us that death cannot separate us from God. Paul also encouraged the Ephesians (6:18) "Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,"
- not just living saints, but all the saints. This can also be translated as 'before' all the saints, which makes asking for the prayers of saints - living and departed - all the clearer.
So Christians asking the angels, saints or other Christians for
their prayers can't be 'unBiblical', as the verses above indicate. The
intercession/mediation of one believer with Christ on behalf of
another doesn't diminish the role of Jesus as THE Mediator with the
Jesus is free to mediate for us directly, or through His friends,
the angels God created or the saints in even or the 'holy ones' on earth. "Therefore, confess your
sins one to another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. For
the fervent prayer of a righteous man is very powerful."
James cites the example of Elijah in the verses that follow,
urging us to copy that saint's faith. Such examples of other
intercessors - living and departed to heaven - in Scripture, proves that 1 Timothy 2:5 doesn't forbid Christians
from such prayers.
CALL NO MAN 'FATHER.'
"As for you, do not be called 'Rabbi'
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one
earth your father, you have but one Father in heaven." (Mt.
Many object to the use of titles for presbyters (priests in the
Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox and other Christian faiths) on the basis of
this Scripture. On the surface, it certainly seems that ''call no one
on earth your father,'' would be hard to misunderstand. Let's dig
deeper to see what is being taught here to faithful Bible
First, it is worth noting that no one objects to calling
someone a 'teacher', in spite of this same verse, and there are surely more
'teachers' in the world today than ministers who use the title
But that alone proves only the inconsistency that people have in
applying this verse.
Does Jesus teach us here that we are LITERALLY to call NO ONE a
father? Does that include our 'dad?' If that were true, then God the
Father Himself violated this teaching, in giving the Ten Commandments to
Moses (see Exodus 20:12)!
If we are try understanding this verse literally, then the
Apostle Paul also 'violated' this interpretation of Scripture. In 1 Cor.
4:15, Paul applies the title 'father' to himself in the same way
as priests do: "Indeed, in Christ Jesus, I became your father
through the Gospel." Since Paul didn't became the paternal father of
his readers and listeners, clearly he meant he was their spiritual
Since there are many other instances in the New Testament where
the word 'father' is used (see Acts6:14, 7:2, 21:40, 22:1; Rom. 4:16-17, Philemon 10, 1 Jn. 2:13-14, etc.), clearly Jesus did not mean His words in Matthew 23 to be literally understood.
The meaning of this often misused passage is clarified by Jesus: "you have
but one Father in heaven." It would be wrong to give someone ANY
title (teacher, father, master) , or ANY honor without keeping in mind that God
is our ultimate Teacher, Father and Master! We are being taught to
be humble before God: "The greatest among you must be your
Just as Paul served his spiritual children as a
father would, so too we must humble ourselves and serve our brothers and
sisters as Jesus and His Apostles did. This is the proper
understanding of this often misunderstood verse: is it the one your Bible study
group or minister taught you? Just as the Bible teaches us to
rely on 'two or three' witnesses before establishing some fact, so too
Bible believing Christians must be careful NOT to take a single
Scripture out of context.
USING THE BIBLE ALONE
"All Scripture is inspired by God,
and is profitable
for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in
(2 Tim. 3:16). Many use this verse to assert that Christians
should use the Bible alone as the sole rule for faithful living. But
both logic and the Scriptures refute that understanding of this verse.
If the Bible were completely clear on its meaning, then why are
there so many thousands of different churches, each with their own
'interpretation' of the Scriptures?
Jesus prayed that His disciples "may all
be one", just as He was one with His heavenly Father (Jn 17:21). Yet we
see such a sad division among Christians today, in spite of Christ's
intent for us, and ironically, the divisions are often based (in theory
at least) on the Bible - God's Word.
Yet 2 Peter 1:20 clearly says: "First of all you must
understand that no prophesy of Scripture is a matter for one's own
Peter goes on to say, in writing about Paul's letters, "In
them there are some things difficult to understand, that the ignorant and
unstable distort, to their own destruction, just as they do the rest of
the Scriptures." (2 Pet. 3:16). Clearly, the Bible can and IS
misinterpreted by people.
In the book of Acts, the Ethiopian official was "Seated in
his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah" on his trip back from
Jerusalem. "The Spirit said to Phillip, 'Go and join up with that
chariot.' Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said,
'Do you understand what you are reading?' He replied, 'How can I,
unless someone instructs me?' So he invited Philip to get in and...Then
Philip opened his mouth and, beginning with this Scripture passage, he
proclaimed Jesus to him." (Acts 8:28-31,35).
Now who was Philip to interpret the Scriptures to this Ethiopian
Bible student? The book of Acts tells us that Philip was chosen by the
leaders of the early Church to be a deacon, a minister: "the Apostles who prayed and
laid hands on them." (Acts 6:6). Philip was a minister of the Church
that Jesus established in Matthew 16:18.
Jesus promised that His Church would survive: "and the gates
of hell shall not prevail against it." (Mt. 16:18). To the early
Church, Jesus gave power and authority over believers, in part to make
sure that there would be a safeguard against the false teachers that
Jesus predicted would follow. He told the Apostles of His Church:
"He who hears you, hears Me, and he who rejects you rejects Me, and
he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me." (Lk. 10:16).
It is the Truth that Jesus said sets us free (Jn. 8:31-32), not our opinions. The
Bible clearly wasn't meant to be self-interpreting, as both the
Bible, common sense and experience proves. We should seek His Saving Truth by seeking
the Church that Jesus established, the Church which correctly
teaches the Bible!
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